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The Best Way to Take Payments With Your iPhone

Updated Jan 31, 2024

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Entrepreneurs with mobile businesses like pop-up shops, home services companies or food trucks must be able to accept payment on the go. Instead of lugging around a wired credit card reader and searching for someplace to plug it in, you can use something you already have with you: your iPhone. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Many credit card processing companies have sophisticated software and software that can help you accept credit card payments with your phone. With iPhones enjoying robust popularity, iPhone-compatible payment acceptance is a hot topic. We’ll explain everything you need to know to accept payments via iPhone. 

Did You Know?Did you know

According to Statista, there are more than 120 million iPhone users in the United States ― nearly half of all smartphone users. Accepting Apple Pay and utilizing iPhone-compatible payment methods is good business.

How to accept payments with an iPhone

Delivering seamless payment options is part of providing a great customer experience. An iPhone can help mobile business owners access a powerful and versatile payment terminal that can save customers time ― and limit their hassles. 

 Follow these steps to harness the convenience of iPhone-based mobile transactions:

  1. Find a mobile payment processor: Find a mobile payment processing provider with the features you need at an affordable price. Choosing the right credit card payment service is the most crucial part of this process.  
  2. Get an iPhone-compatible card reader: Your mobile payment processor will provide you with an iPhone-compatible card reader to facilitate consumer payments. 
  3. Download the appropriate companion app: Your payment processor will direct you to a dedicated iPhone app that will interface with your account and card reader. You’ll download and set up your account on this app.
  4. Connect your devices: Connect the mobile credit card reader to your iPhone via Bluetooth. (Older iPhones may need a reader that plugs in via the headphone jack or Lighting charging port.)
  5. Accept customer payments: Familiarize yourself with your mobile card reader’s capabilities. Depending on your reader and your customers’ specific cards, you’ll have your customers tap, insert or swipe their cards to remit payment. In some circumstances, you may need to enter the card number manually in your mobile payment software interface.

The best card readers for processing payments on iPhone  

You have numerous options when selecting a mobile credit card processor to help you set up your iPhone to accept payments. You’ll want to evaluate their card reader pricing, processing costs and card reader features.

Here are a few of the best mobile credit card processing solutions to consider: 

Processor

iPhone card reader

Features

Reader cost

Processing cost

Clover

Clover Go

Swipe, tap and insert

$49

$14.95 monthly fee; 2.6% plus 10 cents transaction fee: 

Square

Square Reader (for contactless and chip)

Tap and insert (“dip”)

Free for new merchants, otherwise $59

No monthly fee:

2.6% plus 10 cents transaction fee 

PayPal

PayPal Zettle

Swipe, tap and insert; PIN pad; accepts PayPal and Venmo

First one $29, then $79

No monthly fee;

2.29% plus 9 cents transaction fee 

Helcim

Helcim card reader

Swipe, tap and insert; PIN pad

$109

No monthly fee;

Interchange-plus pricing averaging 1.93% plus 8 cents

     

Payanywhere

Payanywhere 3-in-1

Swipe, tap and insert

$59.95

No monthly fee; 2.69%

transaction fee: 

SumUp

SumUp Plus card reader

Swipe, tap and insert; PIN pad; long battery life

$19

No monthly fee; 2.75% 

transaction fee: 

Here is some additional information on each option:

Clover Go

Clover’s Clover Go mobile credit card reader can accept magnetic stripe (swiped), chip (inserted) and near-field communication (NFC or tapped) cards. It also supports mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. This compact $49 device connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and interfaces with the robust Clover Go mobile payment app.

Transactions are processed in real-time via Wi-Fi or later when Wi-Fi is unavailable. 

When you contract with Clover on the platform’s least expensive tier, Clover Essential, you’ll pay the following:

  • Monthly fee: $14.95
  • Transaction fee: 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction for card-present transactions via the reader

Our complete review of Clover credit card processing explains more about Clover’s pricing plans for POS systems and credit card processing. 

FYIDid you know

Some of Clover’s payment processing software includes POS system capabilities to help manage inventory, customer accounts and other parts of your business.

Square Reader

Square is a credit card facilitator that offers the Square Reader for contactless and chip. This compact reader utilizes Bluetooth and supports NFC mobile payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay. However, it doesn’t support cards with magnetic stripes and chipless cards.  

The Square Reader costs $59 and interfaces with Square’s POS software, allowing you to view sales transactions, manage inventory, issue digital receipts and manage your customers. You’ll pay:

  • No monthly fee
  • Transaction fee: 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction for card-present transactions via the reader

Our in-depth review of Square explains how the vendor’s robust free service plan provides businesses with everything they need to accept various payments.

PayPal Zettle

Like Square, PayPal is a credit card facilitator. With these platforms, you don’t have your own merchant account. When you accept card payments with PayPal, you’re a submerchant under PayPal’s umbrella merchant account. 

Unlike the Clover Go and Square Reader, the PayPal Zettle iPhone credit card reader has a numeric pad where customers can enter their debit PIN. It accepts chip, tap and swipe transactions, as well as PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. 

The reader utilizes Bluetooth wireless technology and integrates with PayPal’s Zettle app. The app integrates with PayPal’s free Zettle POS software, creating an excellent solution for businesses with e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores. Your first PayPal Zettle mobile card reader for iPhone costs $29; additional units cost $79. You’ll pay:

  • No monthly fee
  • Transaction fee: 2.29% plus 9 cents per transaction for card-present transactions via the reader

Visit our PayPal credit card processing review for more details about pricing and terms for PayPal’s various offerings.

Helcim card reader

Helcim’s iPhone card reader allows you to accept swiped, chip and NFC card transactions, as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay. It also has a numeric pad for PIN input. It connects via Bluetooth and can interface with Helcim’s POS software on iPhones, iPads and laptop computers. 

Helcim POS software also includes automatic tax calculations, inventory management and customer data. The Helcim card readers are $109 each. You’ll pay:

  • No monthly fee
  • Interchange-plus pricing varies; on average, you’ll pay 1.93% plus 8 cents for credit card-present transactions and 0.91% plus 8 cents for debit card-present transactions with the reader.

Our review of Helcim credit card processing explains more about this all-in-one platform that provides merchants with essential tools beyond credit card processing.

Did You Know?Did you know

Helcim’s virtual terminal helps merchants accept payments over the phone by keying in transactions manually.

Payanywhere 3-in-1

The Payanywhere 3-in-1 reader doesn’t have a numeric pad and looks a lot like the Clover Go and Square readers. It accepts magnetic stripe, EMV and NFC cards as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay. 

This $59.95 device connects to your iPhone, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth. The Payanywhere app supports adding tip amounts or percentages and accepts signatures for additional security. It can also send digital receipts or kitchen tickets for food service businesses.

You’ll pay:

  • No monthly fee
  • Transaction fee: 2.69% per transaction for card-present transactions via the reader

SumUp Plus

The SumUp Plus reader accepts all swipe, tap and chip payments as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also features a PIN pad on the back for debit cards. The reader connects via Bluetooth, boasts excellent battery life (up to 500 transactions per charge) and is incredibly affordable at only $19. 

The accompanying app allows you to manage products in your catalog, assign tax rates and send digital receipts. If you have multiple employees, you can see everyone’s sales. 

You’ll pay:

  • No monthly fee
  • Transaction fee: 2.75% per transaction for card-present transactions via the reader

Benefits of accepting mobile payments via iPhone

If your business is inherently mobile, you must accept payments on the go. And since most people don’t carry checks or much cash, accepting credit cards and digital payment methods is essential. Accepting mobile payments via your iPhone solves these dilemmas and brings additional benefits, including the following:

  • Taking payments with your iPhone speeds checkout lines: Long lines discourage customers and can impact sales adversely. Retailers with payment-enabled iPhones can process sales quickly, allowing multiple associates to check out customers. For example, Apple Store associates can check out customers anywhere on the sales floor. 
  • Taking payments with your iPhone improves flexibility: An iPhone credit card reader and app give you the flexibility to try different sales platforms. For example, if you have an Etsy shop selling handmade goods, you could also participate in art shows. Clothing retailers could try setting up a pop-up shop and restaurants could delve into the food truck or event space.
  • Taking payments with your iPhone boosts closing ratios: Accepting payments while you’re with a customer is invaluable for closing the sale. There are no delays to impede the sale’s progress and your customer can enjoy their purchases immediately. 
FYIDid you know

The best credit card processors have transparent fees and affordable rates; they make getting paid straightforward and provide customer support when needed.

How much does it cost to accept credit cards via iPhone? 

Like all business services, credit card processing has costs that impact your bottom line directly. When you decide to accept credit cards with your iPhone, understanding credit card processing fees is crucial. Here’s a quick primer to help you navigate your options: 

Transaction fee

All payment processors charge a transaction fee ― a percentage of the total purchase amount. Some processors also charge a flat amount per transaction. Transaction rates range between 1.5% and 3.5% plus 10 to 30 cents per transaction. Here’s what you should know:

  • If you have many small transactions: Businesses with many small transactions should look for a rate with no flat per-transaction fee (or a very small one). 
  • If you have fewer, high-ticket transactions: Companies with fewer transactions ― but higher-dollar-amount ticket sales ― will fare best if the transaction fee is a lower percentage, even if the flat amount is higher.
  • Card-present vs. card-not-present transactions: Usually, payment processors have different transaction fees depending on how the payment was made. Transactions more susceptible to credit card fraud, such as e-commerce or card-not-present transactions, will be charged at a higher rate than more secure ways of paying, such as in-person with a credit card reader.
  • Interchange-plus pricing: Some payment processors have an interchange-plus pricing model. This means they take the interchange rate set by the card networks (Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express) and add a markup on that rate. Interchange rates vary widely, from lower rates on debit cards used with a PIN to higher rates on corporate rewards credit cards.

Monthly fee

Some credit card processors charge a monthly fee that covers, at a minimum, customer service and monthly statements. This fee may include other services, including PCI security compliance and payment gateway charges. Processors that charge monthly fees usually have lower transaction rates and, therefore, may be a good choice for businesses with higher sales volumes.

Incidental fees

Most payment processors charge incidental fees when certain specified events (outlined in the contract) occur. For example, you will likely be charged a fee when there is a chargeback or you do not meet your security requirements.

Jennifer Dublino
Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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