Flint Mobile Review
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- Redwood City, CA
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[Great news! Flint now can be used to process Discover and American Express transactions too. Another big step in the right direction. Existing users, update your app!]
If you’re looking for a standalone mobile processing account, you’ve no doubt been enticed by these words, often followed by an exclamation mark: Free card reader! Of course the reader doesn’t exactly come for free. It has a production cost, and the processor will pass that cost along to you through rates and fees. If you don’t process enough for them to at least break even on the cost of the reader, then the processor has lost money on you. (Note: Processors do not like to lose money on you.)
But why do you really need a card reader, anyway? Long before the free swiper protocol began, apps like Inner Fence allowed merchants to process cards by simply typing the card information in, as almost all apps still do. Well, since swiped transactions are more secure, they will usually cost less to process than a keyed-in card. Plus, it’s just more convenient and quicker to swipe than to type. But Flint Mobile may be changing this for US-based businesses…
Flint doesn’t offer a swiper. Not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. So right off the bat they significantly reduce their cost for setting up your account. This gives Flint the ability to offer lower rates – and they seem to do just that, with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate. No “non-qualified” rates or additional fees to worry about. To solve the convenience problem of having to key-in card info, the Flint app allows you to use your phone’s camera to scan the card numbers. Bam. Done. Easy as taking a cute cat picture, but probably more lucrative.
Other providers also offer this camera scan technology, but none price these transactions as fairly as Flint Mobile. Flint can compete with the best standalone, pay-as-you-go mobile processors out there. If you process a lot of debit transactions, Flint will save you money over any other similar mobile processor I’m currently aware of. If you (like me) are not crazy about having to keep track of another piece of low-grade, semi-disposable hardware, then giving up the swiper might even come as a relief to you.
The Flint Mobile app is perhaps the most usable, sensible, speedy, reliable mobile processing app I have ever used. During my testing I had absolutely no problems, and was running transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps. It might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, but Flint makes it easy and intuitive to customize this. I had no trouble at all. My one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt. It would be really nice to see this feature implemented.
I’m also super impressed by Flint’s new “Sell Online” feature. This is among the easiest to use and most versatile means for collecting online payments I’ve seen in recent memory. The new feature allows you to take any item from your inventory and sell it online by simply hitting the “Sell Online” button. You can then edit the description and even customize the button text, and then sell either through a hosted payment page that Flint automatically generates (it’s very attractive), or you can copy and paste the code into your website to make the button appear.
They have a moderate default weekly processing limit, but you can easily increase this by providing Flint with a little more information about your business. End of the day, it’s in Flint’s best interest to have reliable merchants processing as much moolah as possible. They are aware of this, trust me.
As of mid-2014, I’m ready to give Flint Mobile a perfect 5-star rating. While the app won’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, Flint offers plenty of valuable features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly, no flimsy card reader required. This is an honest company providing a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele. Definitely take a look!
Products and Services:
- Mobile credit and debit processing: Unlike Square users, merchants using Flint get their own Merchant ID number (MID). This may contribute to overall better account stability. (Good news!)
- App2App Connect: New for spring 2015, Flint offers a feature that allows you to integrate your business app with Flint Payments. For instance, maybe you have a customer relationship management app where you enter your customer’s contact and order information. Now you can insert code that allows your app and the Flint app to communicate with each other, and you can charge customers and record information without having to enter data multiple times or toggle back and forth. Both iOS and Android integration is supported with solid documentation. They have made the code as lightweight and easy to execute as possible while maintaining a high level of security. I’m really excited to see what all of you app developers do with this!
- Sell Online: New for fall 2014, Flint has expanded user options for card-not-present sales. This feature is a game-changer. I can’t even tell you how impressed and in love with this I am. This is among the easiest, lowest-cost, cleanest, most versatile, and overall most effective means for collecting online payments I’ve seen in recent memory. This feature allows you to take any item from your inventory and sell it online by simply hitting the (aptly titled) “Sell Online” button. You can then edit the description and even customize the button to say whatever you want (like “Buy It Now” or “Donate Here” or “Give Me Your Money”). In terms of how you sell, you have two options. First, you can do it through a hosted payment page that Flint automatically generates (it’s very attractive). Or you can copy and paste the code into your website to make the button appear. It works amazingly well. I’m almost giddy with impressed-ness.
- Real time online reporting: Flint offers a sleek and feature-filled merchant portal, which includes access to customer contact information to send offers and coupons, as well as easy export of info for syncing with your bookkeeping software.
- QuickBooks integration: Links to your QuickBooks Online account and will automatically sync hourly (or can be synced manually with a click). This service allows you to track customers by email, sort transactions based on a number of useful attributes, and a lot more. I love QuickBooks Online and am glad to see integration offered. (Especially because I don’t care for Inuit GoPayment.)
- Mobile app: Basically the entire Flint Mobile service exists within their app, available for most smartphones and tablets. The app has very impressive ease of use, with controls more reliable, intuitive, and commonsensical than most processing apps on the market today. It has all the essential features you need, without trying to integrate any complicated inventory management or other such features I often see halfheartedly crammed into processing apps. Features include:
- Multi-user capabilities: The account owner can allow up to nine sub-account users conduct transactions under their account, each with a unique login and password. This is great for growing businesses that want to be able to take payments from multiple locations at the same time.
- Invoicing: The invoicing service offered through the PayPal Here app is a big draw, so I’m glad to see Flint offering some competition here. This is a very well executed feature, allowing your customers to easily and securely pay invoices. These payments will be processed using the same rates that you receive normally. The automated reminders sent to customers with unpaid invoices are a nice touch. You can do invoicing in-app or at your computer.
- Customized receipts: Make your receipts a little flashy with a logo, business info, coupons and additional notes. You can also make access to social media easy by including a link to post Facebook reviews right on the receipt. You should note, however, that you cannot print a paper receipt with the Flint app.
- QR-based coupons (iOS only): Flint Mobile allows you to create and issue coupons, attaching them to email receipts. Customers can save these coupons via Apple Passbook or email. This is actually a fairly sophisticated program to offer for free, especially considering you can use the merchant portal to keep track of issued and redeemed coupons. Plus the app sends customers an automated reminder before the deal expires (nice!). There are no extra fees for this service. Really impressive, and a great way to add value.
- Multiple item transactions: Users can preset tips, sales taxes and custom memos, and add multiple items to a transaction. Increase quantities with a single tap! (I love this!) You don’t have inventory functionality comparable to full-service POS tablet-based apps, but Flint gets the job done.
- Dollar amount discounts: Many apps make discounts really annoying to apply. Flint handles this feature flawlessly. I might like to see a percentage discount option in the future.
- Logging cash and checks: While you can’t deposit checks with the app (like you can with PayPal Here), you can track cash and checks for a more complete cash register experience.
- Security: I’m taking a moment to bring this up because I’d imagine many merchants are wary of the camera scan function in terms of data safety. Well, Flint has this to say:
Flint has integrated with industry leading financial services and infrastructure companies to provide a reliable, secure and scalable platform. Sensitive data is protected according to PCI DSS and other industry guidelines and all connections are encrypted for maximum security. The Flint app securely scans just the main card number. No card data or images are stored on the phone. Standard card verification info and a touch screen signature are required to complete transactions.
Furthermore, on the topic of security, Flint gives you the option to use their Mask Card Scan feature. Enabling this feature will block out the middle numbers of the card on your screen, as seen in the image below, courtesy of Flint.com. For wary customers, this can provide an added sense of security.
You can find a full and up-to-date list of support devices on the Flint FAQ. In general, all iOS devices are supported. Many Android devices are too, but the coupon feature doesn’t carry over. Regardless, the app remains well-liked among Android users, who overall rate it at over 4 stars on Google Play.
This is the compatibility information directly from Flint’s site:
Flint is currently available in the U.S. for iPhone and Android users.
Apple iOS Device Compatibility
Your Apple device must be running iOS 6.0 or higher.
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone 5C
- iPad mini
- iPod Touch
Downloading the iPad App: In the App Store, Flint is listed as an “iPhone app,” so to get the app on your iPad you must change the default search criteria to include iPhone apps. After that, you can install and use the app on your iPad just as you would on an iPhone.
Android Device Compatibility Supported
Android devices must have: Android 4.0 or higher and access to Google Play Here are a few examples of the Android devices supported today:
- HTC One
- Samsung Galaxy S4
- Motorola Moto X
- LG Nexus 4
Fees and Rates:
The Flint fee structure is incredibly simple and transparent – the exact opposite of Intuit GoPayment. Flint truly has only two rates:
- Debit transactions: 1.95%
- Credit transactions: 2.95%
That’s it. No per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, no surcharges of any kind. About half of all card purchases are done with debit, so you should take that 1.95% rate very seriously. It’s a damn good deal in the mobile processing market.
In Flint’s welcome email, they disclose the following standard limits:
- Max per transaction Scanned: $1000.00
- Max per transaction Typed: $250.00
- Max per week: $3000.00
- Max per invoice: $250.00
- Total invoice limit: $1000.00
If you’re willing to provide a little more information about your business, Flint can substantially increase your limits. Just fill out their Merchant Information Request form. This process includes a so-called “soft credit check,” which allows Flint to check out your credit without affecting your credit score. Since having too many inquiries on your credit report can lead to a downgraded score, I sincerely appreciate Flint’s decision here. If you don’t want your personal credit to be evaluated (if you’re not the business owner, for instance), then you can use the Business Information Request form to the same end.
Overall, I believe Flint does an outstanding job of avoiding unnecessary account freezes or funding holds. There are few (if any) complaints regarding this to be found online, as opposed to the hundreds (thousands?) of such complaints filed against competitors like Square or Intuit GoPayment.
Unlike other mobile processors, Flint is required to submit a 1099-K tax form for you regardless of your processing volume. This is a trade off you have to make in order to secure a more stable processing account. While this shouldn’t be an issue for most, I’d like to see Flint do a better job of disclosing this and explaining it to merchants.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
No termination fees whatsoever! Also, being a pay-as-you-go service, Flint will not charge you if you become inactive. No monthly fees, no monthly minimums, ever. Simple as that.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
You’ll find absolutely crystal clear advertising transparency with Flint. They have very simple rates and fees, so explaining it doesn’t take much effort on their part. Since Flint doesn’t rely on sales agents to board merchants, sales transparency isn’t a big issue.
I would maybe like to see a more prominent disclosure of their 7-day default processing limit ($3,000) and policy of holding funds over the limit for 30 days – but I can also say that they are doing a better job than a lot of other providers in terms of making sure their users know about the limits and working with merchants to ensure consistent service.
Also, like many mobile processors, Flint offers instant approval and setup. This means that they give you access to their account first, and ask questions later. While this practice is the industry standard, can lead to account terminations and freezes for high-risk merchants early on. But again, Flint is really doing a great job of avoid any issues with this.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Square set the bar pretty low for mobile processing customer service, so needless to say Flint goes above and beyond that standard. I’d even say that Flint exceeds the support service offered by PayPal Here (one of my favorite mobile services) – maybe not in quantity, but almost definitely in quality.
You can get phone and email support during business hours (7am-5pm Pacific, Monday-Friday). I’d like to see a more extensive knowledge base replace their small FAQ, but I do believe Flint provides an acceptable amount of information to help users solve basic problems on their own. The simplicity and elegance of their services are perhaps suited to a diminutive self-service support page.
If you’ve used Flint’s customer service, let us know how it went!
Flint Mobile Negative Reviews and Complaints:
You can see two complaints for Flint filed with the BBB in the past three years, one of which is from back in 2012. While there are no details provided for the older complaint, it’s marked as a “delivery issue,” which seems very strange to me since Flint does not deliver any hardware. The newer complaint was quickly and amicably resolved, and seems to have been a bank account issue.
Aside from that, you’ll have a hard time digging up any dirt on the rock-solid services provided by Flint. (Pun intended.) They’re pretty new, so things could change. I have a good feeling about these guys, though.
If you’ve had first-hand experience with Flint Mobile, please leave us your independent, unbiased review in our comments section.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
The few independent reviews available for Flint Mobile all praise the service. I’m also impressed that Dharma Merchant Services uses a Flint affiliate service for their “Dharma Lite” platform. I have all the respect in the world for Dharma as a merchant services provider, so their trust in Flint comes as high praise.
Reviewers of the Flint app also have good things to say, consistently rating it four and five stars in the App Store and on Google Play. See the Products and Services heading above for a full list of features.
Once again, YOU keep our reviews great! If you’ve had first-hand experience with Flint Mobile, please leave us your independent, unbiased review in our comments section.
It’s official: I’m ready to ditch the dongle. While PayPal Here and Square still have a few features Flint hasn’t carved out yet, I’m optimistic for this industry newcomer. They’re providing fantastic service and a ton of useful features, with more arriving every update. If Flint is profitable, you can expect them to be a mobile processing frontrunner in coming years.
While time will tell if Flint can hang on in this incredibly competitive and complex industry, they’ve proven at least some staying power in the last three years. Their integrated coupons and invoicing add even more value to this already valuable and fairly priced service. For many small businesses, Flint is a perfect mobile processing solution. I like the service they offer, and – just as importantly – I like the company as a whole. It’s quick/easy/risk free to give them a shot. I recommend that you do! Just be aware that there is no receipt printing capability.
The icing on the cake? Flint’s “Sell Online” feature. The new feature allows you to take any item from your inventory and sell it online (either through a button on your site or through a customized payment page) by simply hitting the “Sell Online” button. I also like that all online sales are recorded separately, so you don’t have to dig them out when it comes time to ship merchandise.
Need a full-service merchant account instead? Check out CDGcommerce for an ultra low-cost option, or Dharma Merchant Services for perhaps my favorite merchant experience. But for mobile processing, no one I’ve seen can beat Flint in terms of affordability and ease. Let me know what you think in a comment below!