iPhone Card Reader Review: The Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Services for iPhone Users
iPhone card readers let you accept credit and debit card payments with your iPhone or iPad and minimal equipment. Read this article to learn more about how these Apple card readers work and how much it costs to use them.
iPhone Card Reader Review: The Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Services for iPhone Users iPhone card readers let you accept credit and debit card payments with your iPhone or iPad and minimal equipment. Read this article to learn more about how these Apple card readers work and how much it costs to use them.
How to Choose the Best iPhone Credit Card Reader
Here’s more on choosing a mobile credit card processor that meets your small business's needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of services.
iPhone card readers let you accept credit and debit card payments using your iPhone or iPad rather than requiring you to use a point-of-sale system or credit card terminal. Aside from the hardware used in these transactions, the procedure of the transaction is identical to that of traditional credit card processors. When you swipe a card through the iPhone credit card reader, your customer's information is securely routed to the processor, the card network, your customer's bank and, at last, your bank account, where the money, minus the processing costs, is deposited.
The most important features of the best iPhone card readers include the following:
- Pay-as-you-go or month-to-month service
- Flat-rate pricing
- No monthly minimum
- No PCI-compliance fee
- EMV-compliant card reader
- Customer support available via phone and email
If you're looking for a card processor that lets you accept online payments, be sure to look at our Accept Credit Cards Online review. For a full-service processor that can help you accept in-store payments, look at our Credit Card Processing review. You can also read articles about mobile credit card processing.
Mobile Credit Card Processing: What We Evaluated, What We Found
While researching iPhone card readers, we looked for processors that offer competitive pricing and charge minimal fees since we know affordability is a top priority for small businesses. We also looked at companies offering month-to-month service without early termination fees, since you should be able to switch processors easily if you find better service elsewhere. Since your time is valuable, we looked for services with quick setup times. To be sure we found the best card reader for iPhone options for you, we considered both credit card processors that offer mobile processing as a stand-alone service and payment facilitators that sponsor merchants to help them accept card payments.
Our reviewers reached out to every company multiple times, at various times on various days. We contacted company agents as potential customers via phone and email. We used our results from this evaluation to score each company on pricing, consistency, ease of application and customer service. Processing costs and fees ended up being key differentiators.
- Pricing Transparency & Consistency Score: This score measures how readily available pricing, fees and terms information is on each company's website. Easily finding information online helps you to quickly determine if the company is one that can help your business. Pricing transparency can help you anticipate the charges you can expect to see on your bill. Mobile card processors tend to surpass standard credit card processors in transparency, since most processors that supply credit card readers for iPhones are open and honest with pricing information and terms, as they demonstrate by posting this information on their websites.
In addition to the transparency on each processor's website, this score reflects our testers’ interactions with customer service representatives, including how forthcoming agents were with quality information. Many of the reps we spoke with referred us back to information on their company's website. We compared the information we received from each company throughout our evaluation for consistency. The companies that earned the highest scores provided complete and consistent information.
- Ease of Application Score: This score reflects how easy the process is to apply for a mobile processing account with each company. In this score, we considered the time it takes to set up an account, the online availability of the application and the documentation required to complete your application. We also considered contract requirements and the amount of time it takes for money from transactions to be deposited into your account.
Half of the processors in this review can set up your account in one day or less. Three processors can take up to two days, while two processors may take three or more days. You can apply for any of the processors in our review online. Some processors require documents like your business license, your tax ID number and your EIN (employer identification number).
We also looked at the time it takes for each processor to deposit money into your account following a transaction. Many processors take up to two days to do this, which is the average in this industry. Some processors, such as Cartwheel Register and CDGcommerce, can deposit money into your account by the next business day if you batch out before a certain time. Square has an instant-deposit feature that can give you immediate access to your funds. Other processors, like PayPal Here and QuickBooks GoPayment, may take up to three days to clear your account.
- Customer Service Score: Our reviewers reached out to each company at various times on different days to evaluate the responsiveness of each service's agents. As we conversed with each company, we considered how promptly the representatives contacted us after we reached out to them online, how courteously they answered our questions and how willing they were to give us pricing over the phone. The companies that earned the higher scores performed well when we contacted them, and they followed up with our testers by either phone or email.
Mobile Credit Card Processors: Our Verdict & Recommendations
It's important to carefully consider mobile processors that provide iPhone card readers so that you can find the one that's the best fit for your small business.
- Square is a good option because it provides solid support options for small businesses and offers tools for analytics, invoicing, appointments and more.
- Cartwheel Register uses the camera on your iPhone or iPad to scan credit cards and doesn't require any additional hardware.
- EMS+ and Cartwheel Register offer flat rates, no long-term contracts and no fees.
- CDGcommerce has some of the lowest flat-rate pricing.
- QuickBooks GoPayment integrates with QuickBooks and can automatically record your transactions.
- PayPal Here lets you accept PayPal payments as well as credit and debit cards and is the only company that offers an iPhone card reader with a built-in PIN pad.
- Moolah provides you with Authorize.net access.
- Flagship ROAMpay and CreditCardProcessing.com set you up with your own merchant account, which may be beneficial if you process a high volume of sales.
Before you sign up for an account with a mobile processor that provides iPhone card readers, be sure to take the time to contact the companies directly to get quotes that are specific to your business. It's also important to read through the full contract or user agreement before you sign it to be sure you aren't surprised by any fees.
Credit Card Readers for Apple Phones
After you pick a service and sign up for an Apple card reader, you need to install the processor's app on your phone or tablet. Your iPhone or iPad needs to have access to either Wi-Fi or a data plan in order to process cards.
You can then attach a small card reader, also called a swiper or dongle, to your iPhone, usually by plugging the equipment into your headphone jack.
- Newer iPhone credit card readers may connect to your phone via Bluetooth and can read EMV chip cards.
- Some are also equipped with NFC technology that can accept mobile wallets like Apple Pay, which enables your customers to pay with their iPhones instead of cash or physical credit cards.
- A few of the newer processors, like Cartwheel Register, don't require a card reader at all and can use your phone or tablet's camera to capture card data.
EMV Chip Readers for iPhones: iPhone credit card readers need to be able to accept EMV chip cards or you may be liable for fraudulent purchases. Although some processors may claim that the EMV certification requirement doesn't apply to iPhone card readers, it actually does, according to Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Half of the processors in our review currently offer EMV-compliant card readers for iPhones and several of the others have them in development. Processing apps that scan the cards using your iPhone's camera are exempt from this requirement as they use different technology to process the card data.
Mobile Credit Card Processing: Fewer Fees
Very few of the companies offering iPhone card readers charge a monthly fee or PCI-related fees. Most also don't set a monthly minimum processing requirement, and those that do are typically full-service credit card processors that also offer mobile credit card processing as a stand-alone service. Approximately half of the companies we reviewed don't charge chargeback fees.
Mobile Credit Card Processing: Flat-Rate Pricing
Flat-rate pricing is the most popular pricing model for processors that provide iPhone credit card swipers, and most of the services in our review offer it. Flat-rate pricing is the easiest to understand since you usually pay a single percentage rate for each transaction, regardless of the type of card. Many times, you pay a different and slightly higher rate if you manually enter the card's information rather than swiping it. Some processors in our review also charge a per-transaction fee, though some only require this on keyed-in transactions.
Initially, flat-rate pricing may look more expensive than the typical starter rates that some companies advertise. One of the trademarks of flat-rate pricing, however, is that there are fewer fees with this model than with a traditional merchant account that has tiered or interchange-plus pricing. Many of the best mobile processors don't charge any additional fees.
There are some variations to flat-rate processing. Some companies, such as Cartwheel Register and Moolah, charge the same flat rate no matter how the card information is captured. Some processors charge a per-transaction fee on top of the flat rate. The per-transaction fee ranges from $0.05 to $0.30.
- If your business typically has large tickets, choosing a company that charges a lower percentage rate may be more cost effective, even with the per-transaction fee added on top of it.
- If you generally have smaller tickets, you may want to choose a processor that doesn't extract a per-transaction fee.
Mobile Payments: What every small and mid-sized business should knowDOWNLOAD
In this report, we will examine all facets of mobile payment processing, beginning with a very brief history of mobile payments and forecasts for the future. We will then explore the benefits of mobility for small and mid-sized businesses, the ease of processing mobile payments, the equipment required and the issues small and mid-sized businesses should take into consideration when taking your business mobile.
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Common iPhone Card Reader Questions & Answers
Mobile banking will replace credit cards, and checks (as it is already starting to) and will provide quick and easy money transfers (as it already is). Mobile banking will be used for paying everything from rent to utilities, as well as individual purchases online, in-store, and from home. Essentially it will be used as a universal payment system, even allowing for currancy exchanges seemlessly. The issues to overcome will almost entirely be those of security. Bluetooth just isn't secure in...Read More ▼
List of 8Best iPhone Card Readers
Flagship Merchant Services
Flagship Merchant Services offers favorable month-to-month terms to all its merchants, with no setup, gateway setup or early termination fees. This full-service credit card processing company has low rates and offers both tiered and interchange-plus pricing, so you can choose the pricing model that's best for your business. The service includes a merchant account and a wide range of credit card processing options, including in-person, online and mobile credit card processing. If you need a more advanced solution, you also have the choice of using a full-featured iPad POS system. Flagship has an easy application process and 24/7 customer support.
Moolah, not to be confused with Moolah Payments, is a rarity among mobile credit card processing companies, because it provides you with a merchant account and an Authorize.Net gateway but charges very few fees. There are no monthly, annual, PCI, gateway or termination fees. It has flat, transparent pricing, pay-as-you-go terms, and a low monthly minimum. It integrates with hundreds of third-party apps, including e-commerce platforms and POS systems.
EMSplus is a mobile credit card processing app from Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) that works on Apple and Android phones and tablets. It has flat-rate pricing and a month-to-month agreement with no setup, cancellation or monthly fees. There are also no monthly minimum processing requirements.
PayPal Credit Card Processing
PayPal lets businesses of all sizes, including startups and microbusinesses, accept credit cards with minimal application requirements. It's affordable, has transparent pricing and terms, and is easy to use for both in-person and online transactions. It also integrates with many POS systems and shopping carts.
Square is the simplest and fastest way to accept credit cards using a smartphone or tablet. It has clear, affordable pricing with no contracts, credit checks or complicated setup processes, so you can get started right away. You can start small with a simple credit card reader, then transition to a Square POS system as your business grows.
CDGcommerce provides in-person and online credit card processing services to small businesses. It offers interchange-plus pricing to all its merchants and charges fewer fees than most. There's no setup, AVS, PCI, TIN/1099K or annual fees. There's also no monthly minimum and no early termination fee.
Cartwheel Register by Tantrum Street is a mobile credit card processing app for the iPhone and iPad. Instead of using a card reader, it uses your device's camera to capture card data. The company charges a flat percentage of each sale plus a per-transaction fee. There are no monthly, annual or PCI-compliance fees and there's no contract so you can cancel at any time without penalty.
Accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and STAR credit and debit cards with a merchant account from CreditCardProcessing.com, an iPayment company. It offers solutions for retail, restaurant and e-commerce businesses, including POS systems, mobile credit card processing, and a virtual terminal for phone and mail orders.