Accepting payments via Android is easier than ever. Which card reader is best for you?
- Small business owners who want to use an Android phone or tablet to accept credit card payments have many processing companies to choose from.
- Android credit card readers should be EMV compliant so they can accept chip cards.
- Businesses that process less than $3,000 per month should look for a company that has flat rates and no monthly or annual fees.
Credit card payment applications have made accepting payments on mobile devices commonplace, especially for businesses at trade shows, conventions, festivals and more. Of course, trusting a third-party company with your customer's credit card information and a significant chunk of your revenue is a major decision.
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How to choose a credit card payment app for Android
Researching the many mobile credit card processors out there can be a monumental task. Not only are there many vendors, but each has their own credit card readers, terms, conditions, fees and rates. Sifting through all this information can be a challenge, especially for the busy entrepreneur. Luckily, with the right criteria in mind, organizing the research phase of your buying journey can be easier.
Here's a look at some key aspects of mobile credit card processing to keep in mind when you're first examining the market:
- Pricing model: Pricing for mobile credit card processors generally includes a flat, percentage-based rate as well as a per-transaction fee in some cases. Rates generally cost 2% to 4% of each transaction. Some credit card processors offer an interchange-plus or tiered pricing model instead, which can reduce the rates you pay per transaction, but these typically come with monthly and yearly account maintenance fees that make it more expensive for merchants that process less than $3,000 per month.
- Additional fees: Most mobile credit card processors that have flat-rate pricing don't charge many fees beyond their per-transaction rates except for the chargeback fee, which is triggered when a customer disputes a charge. However, if you choose a vendor that uses the interchange-plus or tiered pricing model, they will also charge account maintenance fees, such as monthly statement fees, gateway fees and monthly minimum fees. For a full breakdown of the types of fees credit card processors often require, see our guide here.
- Contract terms and services: Many mobile credit card processors operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you only pay for the processing you use. Others have a month-to-month subscription model or require a long-term contract. Understanding the terms and conditions, as well as the required contractual obligation, is an important factor when deciding on a credit card processor.
- EMV-compliant card readers: EMV-compliant credit card readers read the chips that most new cards contain. EMV chips generate a unique number during every transaction, making it impossible to fraudulently replicate a transaction. The transition to EMV chips was difficult and costly for many retailers, so the ability to use an EMV-compliant mobile credit card reader is a cost-effective way for small businesses to stay current with modern credit card security standards.
- NFC-enabled card readers: Near-field communication, commonly known as NFC, allows for the acceptance of contactless payment solutions. These types of credit card readers allow customers to quickly tap their cards – or their phones, if they're using a mobile wallet like Google Pay – to make the payment, rather than swipe the card or wait for the reader to scan the card's EMV chip. This is a nice feature for small businesses that want to keep things moving quickly and easily at the checkout counter.
- Third-party integrations: The third-party software integrations available with each credit card processing service are also an important factor. These integrations could improve your business's workflows by streamlining the way sales data enters your other software systems. For example, some credit card processors offer integrations from their point-of-sale software to your accounting software, automatically updating your sales numbers so you don't have to manually enter the same data you already collected at the point of sale.
- Reporting: Finally, when it comes to your finances, transparent and detailed reporting is always a must. A credit card processor should offer useful canned reports. Ideally, you should also be able to customize reports by applying filters to the data collected by the software.
With these factors in mind, you're ready to test out the Android credit card payment apps on the market. If you're still not sure where to start, business.com already reviewed hundreds of credit card processors. Here are some of the best credit card readers for Android that we encountered.
What is the best credit card reader for Android?
Determining which credit card reader is the best for Android depends on your specific needs and priorities. On business.com, we've reviewed a wide range of mobile credit card processing companies and full-service credit card processors, many of which also offer mobile credit card readers. You can see all of our best picks for both types of processor clicking the links above, but the snapshots below will help get you started when it comes to finding the best credit card reader for Android.
PayPal App for Android
PayPal is a popular application for both individual users and small businesses. It offers competitive rates, and there are no monthly account maintenance fees or monthly minimums. The PayPal app is our pick as the best Android mobile credit card processor.
When you sign up for PayPal's merchant processing services, you receive a free point-of-sale app as well as a free PayPal Chip and Swipe Reader. Additional hardware options are available for purchase, including the PayPal Chip and Tap Reader that accepts magstripe, chip, and contactless cards, as well as mobile payment options.
PayPal's rates range from 2.7% to 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction for card-present transactions. For card-not-present transactions, rates range from 2.9% to 3.5%, plus a 30 cent per-transaction charge.
Square Reader for Android
Square offers a low rate with no fees, no contracts and a free credit card swiper for every account. Square charges the same rates for all types of cards as well, so you don't have to worry about whether your customers primarily use debit, credit, rewards or corporate cards.
When you sign up with Square, you receive free point-of-sale software in the form of the company's payment application, which is called Square Point of Sale. In addition to the free card swiper, you can purchase additional hardware options, including a Square Contactless and Chip Reader for contactless payments and EMV chips.
Square's rates range from 2.5% to 2.6% plus 10 cents on card-present transactions. For card-not-present transactions, rates range from 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction to 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction. For a full breakdown of Square's pricing, see our full review.
SumUp for Android
SumUp is our pick as the best mobile credit card processor for iOS, but it is available for Android as well. It provides services on a pay-as-you-go basis and allows you to close out your account at any time with no cancellation fees. There are no setup fees or additional hidden fees either.
When you sign up for SumUp, you can purchase a $19 credit card reader that accepts magstripe, chip, and contactless credit and debit cards. SumUp also allows you to accept payments from mobile wallets like Google Pay. Shipping on the EMV/NFC card reader is also free.
SumUp's rates are straightforward, starting at 2.65% with transactions made in person using the card reader. Payments accepted through the virtual terminal cost 2.95% plus 15 cents per transaction. There are no maintenance fees, statement fees, PCI compliance fees or gateway fees. There is a $10 chargeback fee that is only incurred when a customer disputes a charge. For a full breakdown of SumUp, see our full review.
If you're a QuickBooks user, QuickBooks Payments is most useful for syncing your payment data with your accounting software, saving you the work of double entry. The company charges flat processing rates and has a pay-as-you-go plan for small businesses. There is no long-term contract requirement for the use of its services.
QuickBooks Payments includes free access to its GoPayment mobile application on Android phones and tablets. The app includes the core point-of-sale features as well as invoice-generation options and recurring payments. When you sign up for service, you receive a free QuickBooks Chip and Magstripe Card Reader. Additional readers can be purchased for $19 each, which makes them some of the most cost-effective EMV readers in our review.
The QuickBooks Payments pay-as-you-go plan ranges from rates of 2.4% to 3.4% plus 25 cents per transaction. For businesses that process more than $7,500 per month, the company offers a monthly fee plan that has lower rates and costs $20 per month. Rates range from 1.6% to 3.2% plus 25 cents per transaction. For a full breakdown of QuickBooks Payments, see our full review.
Shopify Payments is the processor we recommend for online businesses that need to make in-person sales using an Android phone or tablet, because it offers month-to-month terms and simple flat rates. Shopify Payments is the in-house credit card processing service offered by the e-commerce platform Shopify. There are no long-term contracts, but you must pay a monthly subscription fee for the e-commerce software to use its mobile payment processing app.
When you sign up for Shopify Payments, you receive access to the company's point-of-sale app, which allows you to accept all major credit and debit cards. Processing hardware, such as a chip and swipe reader, are available at an additional cost.
Shopify Payments charges flat rates that vary from 2.4% to 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, depending on the plan you sign up for and whether a card is present during the transaction. There are five plans ranging from $9 per month to $299 per month as well as a custom plan for high-volume merchants. The company also offers discounts for long-term commitments. For a full breakdown of Shopify Payments, see our review.
Does Google Pay accept credit cards?
No. Cashless payment applications or mobile wallets, like Google Pay, are consumer apps. They work with consumer credit cards to allow your customers to make payments from their mobile phones. They are not intended to be used by merchants to accept payments.
Merchants can, however, readily accept payments from mobile wallets, including Google Pay, if they have an NFC-capable credit card reader or point-of-sale system.
Mobile credit card processors are changing portable payments
In the past, businesses that traveled were limited to accepting credit card payments over the phone or accepting cash or checks, which carried certain risks and logistical challenges. Today, mobile credit card processors have solved that problem. Whether your business is mobile as a matter of operations or you're visiting a trade show or convention, a mobile credit card processor allows you to do business anywhere. By keeping in mind the criteria above and comparing the details of each service to one another, you can make the best decision for your business's mobile payment collections.