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The Best iPhone Card Readers of 2019

Lori Fairbanks
, writer
| Updated
Feb 06, 2018
> Finance

iPhone Card Reader Comparisons

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 access.
  • Flagship ROAMpay and 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.

Downloadable Guides

Whitepaper Download
Whitepaper Download

Mobile Payments: What every small and mid-sized business should know


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.

More Customers? Increased Revenue?
More Customers?  Increased Revenue?

Yes, Please!

View Infographic

It’s become fact that businesses see increased traffic and revenue when they accept credit cards as a form of online or in-store payment.  Furthermore, new technologies are making it easier and more affordable to include credit card payments.  Don’t miss out on the chance to increase your bottom line – find out who you’re losing and how you can gain from adding credit cards to your payment mix.

Our Benefits to Credit Card Processing infographic is completely free. Simply register your email to download it now.

Credit Card Processing Fees
Credit Card Processing Fees

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Fees (and How to Find the Best Rates)

Get the Whitepaper

When you accept credit cards, you lose part of every sale to the credit card processing company’s fees. Do you know what elements make up those fees or how the banks decide how much to charge you? In this whitepaper, you’ll learn what types of charges make up your credit card processing fees and what you can do to make sure your business is paying the lowest possible rate.

Overview of Credit Card Processing
Overview of Credit Card Processing

Consumers expect to be able to pay for anything with plastic. Our guide to credit card processing makes it easy for you to make this happen.

Download Now

There’s a television commercial for a major credit card
company that shows people zipping through a checkout
line to make purchases. Then along comes some guy
trying to pay with cash, and everything slows down,
causing the cashier considerable angst’not to mention
the customers at the back of the line.

These days, almost everybody uses plastic to pay for
even the smallest items. There was a time when you
couldn’t use a credit card to buy anything under $10.
Now, you can buy a pack of gum and put it on your
card. Consumers are so used to the convenience of
credit and debit cards that it’s no longer an option for a
merchant to take plastic-it’s a necessity.

Common iPhone Card Reader Questions & Answers

Have an iPhone card reader question of your own?
Ask an Expert

What's next in the space of mobile banking?

4 responses
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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...

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List of the The Best iPhone Card Readers of 2019