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Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Solutions

by Lori FairbanksLast Modified: June 15, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
Reviews
Pricing
Contracts
Negotiation Tips
Features
Mobile Credit Card Readers
Methodology
State of the Industry
Common Credit Card Processing Questions & Answers
Community Picks
Guides & Whitepapers (Downloads)
Map
Services
Compare Quotes

The Best Mobile Credit Card Processors for 2018

Mobile credit card processing is often the easiest and cheapest way to accept credit card payments. Using just a mobile credit card reader, iPhone or Android phone, and credit card payment app, you can ring up sales wherever you do business, whether that's at a jobsite, at a trade or trunk show, or on the road.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, mobile processing makes the checkout process more convenient for your customers. If you have a retail location, your employees can use mobile credit card readers to check out customers from anywhere in the store. If you have a restaurant, your servers can accept payments tableside.

Mobile processing is a cost-effective solution for businesses that only accept a few payment cards each day, process less than $3,000 per month or have small sales tickets. Although the processing rates for each transaction are higher than what you'd pay using a full-service payment processor, there are no monthly or annual fees in most cases, so you only pay for the processing service you use. It's also a good solution if you're opening a new business and need a system with minimal upfront costs, or if you don't yet know how much you'll process each month.

One of the key differences between working with a mobile processor and a full-service processor is that most mobile processing companies set you up as a sub-merchant under their master merchant accounts rather than providing you with your own merchant account like full-service processors do. The benefits are that it's very fast to set up, there are usually no monthly or annual fees, and the processor takes care of PCI compliance for you. The disadvantage is that they're more risk-averse and more likely to freeze funds or suspend your account if a transaction looks suspicious or your monthly volume is abnormally high.

As you search for the mobile processor that's the best fit for your small business, it's important to carefully evaluate your options. While our reviews can help you identify the companies you want to learn more about, it's still important to further research these companies by directly contacting them and reading the user agreement before signing up. This ensures you receive pricing and terms specific to your business, as the details you're quoted may vary from those we received in our testing.

EMSplus, PayPal, Shopify Payments and Square top our list of mobile credit card processing companies for small businesses. Read more about them below, along with information about pricing, contracts and features.

If you're looking for a full-service processor that can provide mobile processing and handle a high volume of in-store or omnichannel payments, our credit card processing review gives you good recommendations to choose from. Also, be sure to visit our POS systems review if you're looking for point-of-sale systems for iPads and Android tablets.

The best mobile credit card processing companies in our review have low rates, no or few fees, quick setup, and quality customer service resources. They provide processing on a pay-as-you-go or monthly basis, so you can cancel your account at any time without incurring expensive early termination fees. As with any credit card processing company, you should avoid signing a long-term contract and request a waiver that gives you month-to-month service and eliminates any cancellation penalties.

After you identify the mobile credit card processors you're most interested in, you want to take the time to directly contact the companies, even if their pricing and terms are posted online, so you can get a feel for the quality of their customer service. It's also important to read through the full contract or user agreement before signing up to make sure the company works with your business type and none of the items or services you sell are prohibited.

Best Picks

Best Mobile App
Best Android Mobile Credit Card Processor
Best for Apple Devices
Best for Online Small Businesses
Square

Best Mobile Credit Card Processing App

Square

Square is the best low-fee credit card processing company because the only fee it charges is its flat rate for each transaction. There are no monthly, gateway, setup, annual, PCI compliance or early termination fees. It doesn't even have a chargeback fee, which is unusual. Square's lack of fees makes it an affordable option for small businesses and individuals that don't process enough transactions to justify paying regular account fees each month.

Square also has the best mobile credit card processing app. Not only does it allow you to accept payments, Square includes full-featured point-of-sale software that tracks inventory, manages customer information and runs sales reports. The app is free to use – all you pay for is processing. It works on both Apple and Android phones and tablets, and you can add more business features by subscribing to paid services like payroll and email marketing or by integrating with third-party applications you already use, such as accounting software.

PayPal Credit Card Processing

Best Android Mobile Credit Card Processor

PayPal Credit Card Processing

PayPal is the best low-volume credit card processor, because anyone can sign up for an account, making it an ideal choice for freelancers, solopreneurs, startups, and businesses that typically accept cash or check and only rarely accept credit card payments. It has no monthly processing minimum, no lengthy contract and flat rates, so you can accept credit, debit, and PayPal payments from customers online and in-person. And you only pay for the processing you use.

It's also the best Android mobile credit card processor. Its mobile payment app, PayPal Here, works equally well on Android and Apple phones and tablets, and both versions have all the same features. With this app and a card reader, you can use your phone or tablet to accept payments, manage your product list, email or text receipts, and generate sales reports. You can add multiple users to your account and control what features they can access. You can also transfer money from your PayPal balance to your PayPal Business Debit Mastercard or your bank account.

EMSplus

Best Mobile Credit Card Processors

EMSplus

EMSplus, the mobile arm of Electronic Merchant Systems, has flat-rate pricing with some of the lowest rates for Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards that you accept in person using a card reader. It doesn't charge any monthly or annual fees, nor setup or PCI compliance fees. There's no monthly minimum processing requirement either. The company provides its services on a month-to-month basis, so you can cancel at any time without incurring an expensive early termination fee.

Using EMSplus' mobile app, you can accept payments, prompt your customers for tips and email receipts to them. It includes inventory and customer management tools and also allows you to email invoices. Though the mobile payment app and card readers work on both Apple and Android phones and tablets, EMSplus caters to Apple users, offering a card reader that connects via lightning port in addition to its Bluetooth model, so merchants with newer phones and tablets still have a choice of card reader. It's one of the only mobile payment facilitators that has an app for the Apple Watch. For these reasons, as well as its low rates and favorable terms, we selected EMSplus as the best mobile credit card processor for small businesses that prefer to use Apple devices.

Shopify Payments

Best Mobile Credit Card Processor for Online Small Businesses

Shopify Payments

Small businesses that primarily sell their goods or services online may also need to accept credit card payments in person at trade shows or local events like fairs and farmers markets. We selected Shopify Payments as the best mobile credit card processing service for businesses like these because it makes it easy for you to accept payments online and on the go, has competitive rates, and doesn't require a long-term contract.

Shopify Payments has flat-rate pricing. On its Lite and Basic plans, the rate for cards you accept in person using a card reader is lower than average, and the online rate matches competitor pricing. Its Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans have even lower rates. Shopify Payments sells two mobile credit card readers. Both are EMV-compliant and accept chip and magstripe cards, and one can also accept mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay

Reviews

You can find all our reviews for mobile credit card processing companies here. Along with our best picks, we've included reviews for some of the industry's most popular mobile processors. Find even more options in the alphabetized list below or, if you're looking for a full-service credit card processor that offers mobile processing and sets you up with a merchant account, check out our credit card processing reviews.

Pricing

Mobile Credit Card Processing Rates

Most mobile credit card processing companies have flat-rate pricing. Typically, you pay a percentage of each sale and the rate is the same no matter what type of cards your customers use. Rates are higher for transactions you manually key in or accept online, but again, you pay the same rate, whether the card is debit, credit, regular, rewards or corporate.

Flat-rate pricing initially looks more expensive than other pricing models because the rates are higher than the starter rates that many processors advertise. However, one of the hallmarks of flat-rate pricing is that you pay fewer fees than you would with a full-service processor; in fact, the best mobile credit card processors don't charge any at all. This makes these mobile processors very attractive options, especially if you process a low volume of transactions, such as if you're a new business or most of your receivables are cash or check.

Flat rates are expressed as follows:

  • Percentage of sale only (usually 2 to 3.5 percent)
  • Percentage of sale plus a per-transaction fee (usually 10 to 30 cents). With this type of plan, the percentage is usually lower than those that only charge a percentage rate.

If you sell large-ticket items, pricing with a lower percentage rate will probably be more cost-effective, even with the addition of the per-transaction fee. If you sell small-ticket items, you'll want to choose a processor that doesn't charge a per-transaction rate, since this can quickly eat into your profits. For example, although a per-transaction fee of 25 cents is a nominal amount, if your average transaction is only $5, you're paying 5 percent of your transaction on top of whatever percentage rate you're paying.

Variations to flat-rate pricing include the following:

  • Some processors charge a slightly higher rate for American Express and international cards.
  • Some processors charge the same rate regardless of how the transaction is processed, which may be a good model to look for if you also accept payments over the phone or online.
  • Some processors charge different rates for debit and credit cards, which may save you money if your customers prefer paying with debit cards.

If you plan to use a full-service processor, mobile rates are usually the same as retail (in-person) rates and use the same interchange-plus or tiered pricing model. See our credit card processing review for an explanation of these pricing models.

Mobile Credit Card Processing Fees

Mobile credit card processors typically charge fewer fees than full-service credit card processors, and the best don't charge any regular fees. That means no monthly fee, no monthly minimum, no monthly gateway fee, and no PCI compliance or noncompliance fees. There are no setup fees, gateway setup fees or early termination fees either.

In most cases, the only additional fee you'll see is a chargeback fee if a customer disputes a charge. These tend to be more common with online sales than in-person sales, though they may occur if your customer is dissatisfied with a purchase or doesn't recognize your business name on their credit card statement.

If, however, you arrange your mobile credit card processing service through a full-service processor, you can expect to pay all the same fees you would for retail processing. If you process a high volume of sales each month, you may save more money working with a full-service processor because rates are lower. Conversely, if you process a low volume of sales each month, it's more cost-effective to choose a merchant aggregator that only charges processing costs and doesn't charge fees.

 

Contracts

Most mobile credit card processors have online applications, and their user agreements, or terms of service, are shorter and more straightforward than standard processing contracts. It's important that you take the time to read them thoroughly, along with any linked documents, before you fill out the application. If you can't find the user agreement or terms on the application or the company's website, you should contact the company and ask for a link so you can review it before signing up.

These are some of the things you want to look for in the user agreement:

  • Fee schedule. Many mobile payment facilitators include a list of rates and fees in the user agreement, or link to a page that explains pricing in greater detail.
  • Term length and cancellation policy. Although mobile credit card processors usually have very generous pay-as-you-go or month-to-month service terms, a few have standard processing contracts with three-year terms that automatically renew for one or two more years. If the processor you want to work with has such a contract, make sure to call your rep and see if they can give you a waiver for month-to-month service with no early termination fees or liquidated damages.
  • Identity verification and underwriting. Mobile processors often need minimal documentation to set up your account, such as your phone number, driver's license, Social Security number and a credit card. Some also request a business license, tax ID number or your employer identification number (EIN). A few may require you to submit to a credit check.
  • Compliance with PCI data security standards and card network rules. All merchants that accept credit card payments are subject to card network rules and PCI standards. User agreements often include links to these documents so you can review them.
  • Permitted use. Some mobile credit card processing services can only be used by businesses. Others allow individual use.
  • Prohibited businesses and goods. Make sure your business type and the goods or services you sell are allowed. If they're not, the company will freeze your funds and close your account.
  • Chargeback fee and procedure. If a customer disputes a charge, most processors charge you a fee, usually $15 to $25, and you're liable for the amount of the transaction if the dispute is settled in the customer's favor. The processor may request documentation related to the transaction, hold your funds, or create a reserve account to cover future chargebacks and fees. If you have too many chargebacks, the processor may close your account.
  • Reserve account: Most processors have the right to create a reserve account to cover possible chargebacks. If you have chargebacks or transactions that the processor considers suspicious, the processor may create a reserve account and hold your funds.

If you're working with a full-service processor that offers mobile processing, your rep may send you just the application or merchant agreement. You should be aware that this isn't the complete contract, but if you fill it out and sign it, you're agreeing to it. For this reason, it's important to inquire after the terms and conditions (or terms of service) and the program guide.

You want to read through all three of these documents before signing anything, because if you don't, you may find yourself locked into a lengthy, automatically renewing contract with expensive cancellation fees. You specifically want to look for information on processing rates, fees and cancellation terms – including the procedure that you need to follow to exit your contract. Also look out for clauses that automatically enroll you in additional services.

Negotiation Tips

Mobile credit card processing companies that post their rates and fees online usually don't negotiate their rates and fees unless you process a high enough volume of transactions each month to qualify for volume discounts or custom pricing.

However, there are things you can do to lower your mobile credit card processing costs or ensure that you're getting the best possible rate. Flat rates make it easy to calculate exactly what you'll pay for your processing, so if you know your average sales ticket size, you can do the math to figure out which mobile processor will save you money. Generally, the following guidelines apply:

  • If you have large sales tickets, look for a mobile credit card processing company that has lower percentage rates, even if that means you pay a per-transaction fee.
  • If you have small sales tickets, look for a mobile credit card processor that doesn't charge per-transaction fees. The percentage rate will be higher, but it will still be less expensive

Consider the cost of value-added features in your calculations. For example, some payment facilitators provide you with free point-of-sale software as long as you use their processing services. If it meets your needs, calculate whether it would be cheaper than subscribing or purchasing POS software elsewhere.

Keep these other factors in mind as you choose a mobile credit card processing service:

  • If your business is seasonal, pay-as-you-go or month-to-month terms with no monthly minimum can save you money, since you won't be paying fees for a service you aren't using during the offseason.
  • Some mobile payment facilitators sell card readers at local stores, so you can replace them easily, which may be reassuring if you're worried about downtime due to equipment failure. For example, you can buy Square credit card readers at the Apple Store, Best Buy, Staples and Target. You may also be able to find PayPal credit card readers at local stores.

What Features Do You Need?

Whether you choose to work with a payment facilitator, an ISO/MSP or a direct processor for your mobile processing, you should expect the service to include basic features that allow you to accept payments. It should do the following:

  • Let you accept all major credit and debit cards, including Discover and American Express
  • Provide a free credit card payment app
  • Sell mobile EMV card readers at a reasonable cost
  • Provide customer support by email or phone

Credit Card Payment App

Before selecting a mobile payment facilitator, make sure its app is compatible with your phone or tablet. Although the best payment facilitators have apps for both iOS and Android devices, some only support one platform. Most processors have lists of compatible devices on their websites, or they can email their lists to you upon request.

Even when an app is available for both platforms, the features may differ, and one version may have more functions than the other. Likewise, some iPad and tablet apps have more features than phone apps.

Every mobile credit card payment app includes register or POS software that you can use to ring up sales. With it, you should be able to do the following:

  • Manage a product catalog so you can easily find and add items to a ticket
  • Prompt customers for tips
  • Accept customer signatures on the phone or tablet screen
  • Email, text or print receipts
  • Generate sales reports
  • Connect to a cash drawer, barcode scanner and printer

Mobile Credit Card Readers

One of the chief appeals of mobile credit card processing is that it requires very little equipment, keeping your upfront costs low. All you need, at the bare minimum, is a phone or tablet with cellular or internet service, a credit card payment app, and a mobile card reader.

Many processors offer a free credit card swiper, but they're typically not EMV compliant and only read the magnetic stripe on credit and debit cards. You should plan on upgrading to a reader that accepts EMV chip cards so you're not held liable if you unwittingly accept a payment made using a counterfeit card.

The best mobile EMV card readers have NFC capabilities, allowing you to accept every payment type: magnetic stripe cards, EMV chip cards, contactless cards, and mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Such mobile card readers are very affordable, costing under $100.

In addition to mobile card readers, many payment facilitators offer other accessories, such as receipt printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners so you can set up a full checkout station. These accessories can speed up the checkout process, make it easier to accept both cash and credit card payments, and provide printed receipts to customers who prefer them over email or text receipts. The accessories offered by mobile processors tend to be less expensive than similar products used with standard retail processing.

In case you wish to accept credit cards using only your phone, some mobile processors use newer technologies that eliminate the need for a card reader. Apps from companies such as Flint and Cartwheel Register capture your customer's credit card information using your phone's camera. Since the card isn't swiped, it's treated as an e-commerce transaction, so the rate is higher than what you'd pay if you accept payments using a mobile credit card reader. The QuickBooks Payments app can be used with or without a mobile card reader.

Methodology

Our search for the best mobile credit card processors began by asking small business owners which companies they use and what they like about them. We then searched online for additional options using industry, business and review websites. We compiled this information into a list of companies, adding mobile processors that contacted us requesting to be reviewed as well as those we were already familiar with.

List in hand, we began our research. We narrowed down the list using the criteria below as it applied to different use cases (our best picks categories). We researched each company's website, studying support resources such as knowledgebases, how-to guides, articles and blogs, and video tutorials when available.

We looked for companies that charge minimal fees and offer competitive pricing, because we realize that affordability is a top priority when you're looking for a mobile processing service. We wanted to find companies that provide month-to-month or pay-as-you-go service and don't charge early termination fees, because you should be able to switch processing services without incurring penalties if you find better pricing or service elsewhere.

We also considered how quickly and simply companies set up accounts, their application requirements, and startup costs, including equipment. Although most standard credit card processors offer mobile processing as a stand-alone service, for this review we focused on payment facilitators and companies that offer transparent, flat-rate pricing and minimal fees.

We used the following criteria to evaluate each mobile credit card processing company:

  • Transaction/swipe rates
  • User agreement and service terms
  • Transparency of pricing and terms of use
  • Equipment, setup and other costs
  • Ease of application and setup
  • Time to clear account and funding options
  • Types of payments accepted
  • EMV/NFC capability
  • Third-party integrations
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Additional features and benefits
  • Service limitations
  • Customer service resources

State of the Industry

As the credit card processing industry evolves to improve transparency, payment facilitators lead the way. Most of them clearly post their rates, terms and processing hardware prices on their websites, so you can easily compare services without spending hours on the phone with different sales reps. They've responded to EMV regulations by introducing new mobile readers that accept chip cards, and many also offer options that accept NFC payments such as mobile wallets and contactless cards.

Data security is a top concern for the payment industry, and mobile processors proactively comply with the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), which have proven effective in discouraging hackers. According to one study, 96 percent of merchants that experienced data breaches in 2011 didn't comply with PCI DSS. Mobile card readers use tokenization and point-to-point encryption to securely capture and transmit payment data, and, as mentioned above, many are now EMV compliant.

Common Mobile Credit Card Processing Questions & Answers

Have a mobile credit card processing question of your own?

Business payment history is the lion's share of what goes into your business credit scores. Other factors are outstanding judgments, liens, etc. But the big one is payment behaviors. Pay on time or early, as in full as you possibly can (i. e. go beyond the minimum amount to as full as your budget can stand), and that will help build your business credit. Another piece of the business credit puzzle (it happens to be true for consumer credit as well) is to check your reports - not just...

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Depending on your needs, you can either adapt a Shopping Cart system or go "custom". Custom allows you the greatest flexibility. If you go that route, you can backend to just about any provider. Personally, I've found Elavon the easiest to build an interface. (Elavon is the provider-of-cfhoice through COSTCO.) And, yes, SSL is a definite must. You should note that SSL has really nothing to do with e-commerce. You can use it for anything. Essentially, SSL encrypts all communications...

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I'm not a big fan of giving employees expense cards, unless they are vetted and you can be sure there won't be issue. Having the employee submit a receipt and request for reimbursement forces them to do better receipt logging. As far as how many credit cards you should open, I can't provide much there. Just keep it simple and don't play the Points Game. Focus on building value for your customers and you'll make more money than the points will give you!

Read More ▼

Community Picks

We polled members of the Business.com community to see which credit card processors they prefer. Among those who currently use one, these are the top vendors.

Downloadable Guides

Whitepaper Download
Whitepaper Download

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

DOWNLOAD

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 cardcompany that shows people zipping through a checkoutline to make purchases. Then along comes some guytrying to pay with cash, and everything slows down,causing the cashier considerable angst’not to mentionthe customers at the back of the line. These days, almost everybody uses plastic to pay foreven the smallest items. There was a time when youcouldn’t use a credit card to buy anything under $10.Now, you can buy a pack of gum and put it on yourcard. Consumers are so used to the convenience ofcredit and debit cards that it’s no longer an option for amerchant to take plastic-it’s a necessity.

Map

Flagship Merchant Services
100 City Square
Charlestown, MA
Flagship Merchant Services
Chase Merchant Services
270 Park Avenue
New York, NY
Chase Merchant Services
SumupLondon,
Sumup
Flint
805 Veterans Blvd
Redwood City, CA
Flint
Square
1455 Market St.
San Francisco, CA
Square
PayAnywhere
250 Stephenson Hwy
Troy, ME
PayAnywhere
Cartwheel Register
2929 Canton St.
Dallas, TX
Cartwheel Register
CDGcommerce
860 Greenbriar Circle
Chesapeake, VA
CDGcommerce
Moolah
34700 Pacific Coast Highway
Capistrano Beach, CA
Moolah
Shopify Payments
33 New Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA
Shopify Payments
Elavon Credit Card Processing
Two Concourse Parkway
Atlanta, GA
Elavon Credit Card Processing
EMSplus
5005 Rockside Rd
Cleveland, OH
EMSplus

Services

List of 13Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Solutions

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