Choose the Best Smartphone Credit Card Reader for Your Business

Investing in mobile credit card reader apps is a smart decision for small business owners because it gives your customers more payment options, especially if you travel for outside sales. Businesses are rarely cash-only and it can frustrate customers if your business accepts limited forms of payment. Apps make it easier for your customers to pay how they want, even for small purchases, and will help with customer satisfaction and retention. When comparing apps for mobile credit card readers, there are several factors to consider, starting with ease of use and compatibility with a wide range of mobile devices and phones.

Smartphone Credit Card Reader

Smartphone Credit Card Reader

The credit card is one of the easiest payment tools that could be thought up. It makes for easy transactions of large amounts, and minimizes your losses as you need not carry so much cash on you all the time. However, it can work only if the merchant accepts credit cards (and not all merchants accept all kinds of credit cards). Plus, you can only swipe your card if the merchant has a credit card machine.

From Smartphone to Card Reader

Briefly, the merchant needs a mobile app and a card reader, which comes in the form of a piece of plastic (called a dongle). The card reader is plugged into the phone and the app activated. As the receiver of the payment, all you need to do is just punch in the amount for the purchase, swipe your customer’s credit card through the reader, then get their signature to authorize the payment.

Alternatively, credit cards can be manually keyed in, but there are higher transaction fees charged. Electronic receipts can usually be sent to the buyer’s emails for verification and book-keeping purposes. Here are some of the most popular credit card payment systems you can use.

PayPal Here

PayPal is well-established in the electronic payments industry, and its solution is one of the most reliable and convenient out there. However, like Square, it only works with Apple devices and Androids. This app offers different types of payment plans, so you can choose a package depending on how advanced your business is or you can tailor a package to your needs.

One thing which other mobile payment services couldn’t match up to PayPal Here is that payment funds are deposited into your PayPal account within minutes of the transaction. It also offers you an optional PayPal merchant debit card which you can then use the funds to make eligible purchases and get 1% cashback from them.

PayPal Here also accepts cheques. All you need to do is take a photograph of the front and back of the cheque to process it. Similarly, you can take photographs of the credit or debit card if you do not have the reader with you, but you will still need to key in the security and zip code manually. PayPal will also charge you the keyed-in rate for that.


  • Free sign up
  • Check, cash, credit, and debit card processing capabilities
  • Support online, through support forums/communities, and over the phone
  • No cancellation or obligations
  • Most users will start accepting transactions within a week
  • Clean interface which existing PayPal users will find extremely easy to navigate
  • Multiple users
  • Reports for sales by date, person, payment type, and items purchased


  • Card Swipe: 2.70% (U.S. cards)
  • Card Key-in or Scan: 3.50% + $0.15 (U.S. cards)
  • International card rates are 1% more, so 3.70% and 4.50% respectively
  • Checks are free
  • $20 chargeback fee (this is refunded in the case of customer error)


  • Up to two days for a credit check
  • Up to a week for the card swiper to arrive. However, you can buy it in stores like Staples and Office Direct for $14.99, and PayPal will reimburse you
  • You need to download the PayPal App from either the Play or App store (don’t worry, it’s free)


  • iPhone 3GS and later and iPad devices running iOS version 5.0
  • Android version 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) or later
  • 3.5 mm headset jack with microphone
  • Support for location services
  • Internet access (via WiFi or cellular data network)
  • Some Android tablets

Fees: 2.70% (swiped), 3.50% + $0.15 (/keyed-in)

Download: iOS | Android


Perhaps the smallest card reader on the market, Square is also one of the most easily recognizable devices. About the size of a book of matches, Square plugs directly into the audio jack and can be used on most iPhones or Android phones. Both the device and app are free, and no contract or merchant account is required, so money goes straight into your bank account.

It looks sleek, is easy to use, and allows you to make refunds easily. Square’s pricing plan is equally as simple. For every card swipe, Square takes 2.75%. However, non-swipe transactions incur a fee of 3.5% plus 15¢.


  • Free sign up
  • No minimum or maximum transaction rates: process $1 or $1 million, Square doesn’t care
  • Multiple accounts
  • No reduced functionality for tablet devices
  • Square Analytics, including sales summaries and QuickBooks/Xero integration
  • Transparent pricing structure


This app is unique because it is one of the few on the market that offers a combination card swiper that works with an Android phone, the iPhone, and a BlackBerry. It even works with certain flip phones and older mobile phones. ROAMpay provides end-to-end encryption when transactions are made as well as a secure PIN-based user authentication, which means it ensures the highest levels of data security possible. Its ability to work with so many types of devices makes it a great option for small business owners who want to provide the most convenience for their customers.


This is one of the least expensive options available for mobile credit card reader apps. The reader is free and accepts most major credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover, and charges a low rate of 2.69 percent per card swipe. By giving you the basic features without setup costs, hidden fees, or minimum monthly payments, this is one of the best apps if you’re looking for a low-cost, quick solution.


  • In-app analytics
  • Receipts include a picture of the product and a description
  • PayAnywhere can account for tip and tax
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Digital inventory
  • Accepts all major credit cards and PayPal cards


  • Swiped 2.69%
  • Keyed 3.49% + $0.19
  • $25 chargeback fee
  • $25 Non-Sufficient Fund (NSF) charge
  • $15 Retrieval fee every time your customer wants a sales receipt for a particular transaction

Intuit GoPayment

Intuit GoPayment is similar to Square, but it works with Androids, iPhones and other Apple products, as well as BlackBerry devices. This app charges a monthly fee of about $13 but has lower transaction fees than most other apps. If you can calculate the number of transactions your business makes per month and estimate a high number of transactions per month, this is a great option for your business.


  • Hi-volume pricing option
  • Takes all major credit cards, including international ones
  • Seamless integration with QuickBooks
  • Up to 50 users
  • Online chat, FAQs, and other support in addition to phone customer service
  • Invoicing services, including SMS invoicing and personalized invoices with your company name and logo

VeriFone SAIL

Verifone SAIL contains a comprehensive inventory management system that comes complete with barcode scanning function. It even allows you to sync inventory items across different mobile devices and through its web interface, so that it doesn’t inconvenience you when you need to take payments with multiple devices and at different locations.

Unlike many others in the market, it also has a full-fledged 24/7 customer support service complete with live phone support.

Fees: Non-subscription (free) – 2.70% (swiped), 3.70% (keyed-in) Subscription ($9.95/month) – 1.95% (swiped), 2.95% (keyed-in)

Download: iOS | Android


The selling point of Payleven is the recently added security feature provided by their Chip & PIN device which can be remotely linked to a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth. Customers will be required to enter their PIN on the device to authorize the transaction.

This is especially relevant if you’re doing your business in Europe, where VISA only allows Chip & PIN authorizations for European mobile Point-of-Sale (POS) solutions. When you include VISA card holders into your market, you expand your customer base.

Fees: 2.75% per transaction

Download: iPad | iPhone | Android


Currently only available in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany and the UK, iZettle assures online merchants that their mobile payment service is a highly secured one that is EMV- (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) approved and complies with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) regulations.

No sensitive data will be stored on the mobile device and all data traffic will be encrypted. For an optional one-time fee of £20, you can request for an original chip-card reader (for iPhone and iPad) or audio jack reader (for Android devices). A £20 credit voucher will also be given to you to offset your initial transaction fees.

Fees: 2.75% (swiped), 3.5% + €0.15 (keyed-in).

Download: iOS | Android

Flint Mobile

Flint Mobile has pursued a different business model. Instead of including a free card swiper, they abandoned the model completely, opting instead for scanning credit cards with phone cameras. There’s no decrease in security, and they continue to offer the accounting integration, great UI, and invoicing and tracking of other organizations.

However, due to the dramatic cost cutting of not making card swipers, they can undercut the market’s transaction rates, which they do with enthusiasm. At the time we originally wrote this article, they only accepted VISA and MasterCard but, more recently they’ve added Discover and American Express into the mix, ultimately making them more competitive. That said, they’ve still got pretty imposing limits: no more than $1,000 per scanned transaction, $500 per typed one, with only $1,000 per day and $2,000 per week. Any funds after that are held for 30 days. You can, however increase those with a small credit check.


  • Customizable card scanning setting
  • Coupons
  • In-app analytics
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Up to nine different users
  • Accepts most major credit cards


  • 1.95% per transaction for debit cards
  • 2.95% per transaction for credit cards


  • Instant setup and go, without waiting for a swiper to arrive
  • The small credit check to improve your Flint standing takes a few days


  • iOS 6.0 or higher on iPhone’s 3GS and up
  • Android OS 4.0

Lacking the ability to expand to a bigger POS system is a little limiting. That said, the business model is a superb idea that keeps more money in businesses’ pockets.

credit card


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