Mobile processing is getting awfully competitive these days. If a company doesn’t offer a truly unique product or service, chances are they won’t be able to compete with Square, the head honcho of this industry. I think PayAnywhere has struggled with this in recent years, but 2014 was a big year full of changes. They have a new draw: a free tablet and integrated stand! Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, let’s find out.
PayAnywhere was established in 2010 by credit card processing company North American Bancard. NAB is based out Troy, Michigan and has been around since the early 90s. In the beginning PayAnywhere just felt like a knockoff of Square, but without the refined and sleek appeal. And, beyond that, PayAnywhere has historically suffered from the same shortcomings as Square – namely lackluster customer support and poor account stability, with long-term funding holds common.
With PayAnywhere, it at first appears – based on the Terms and Conditions – that you have to sign the same contract you would if signing up for service directly through North American Bancard. Your fees and rates would be somewhat different, of course, but aside from that you are making the same level of commitment. This is different from the way processors like Square handle their contracts, as they generally have a more limited scope. But here’s where I get confused. The benefit of signing on via a traditional merchant agreement should come in the form of better account stability and a lower likelihood of funding holds.
If you look a little deeper, however, you see that their is a separate User Agreement embedded within the Terms and Conditions that specifically spells out PayAnywhere’s role as a Payment Service Provider, which tells you that they are serving as an aggregator and not a traditional account provider. It seems that in some instance an normal merchant account is established, though.
Beyond the normal shortcomings of a mobile processing account, I have a few additional worries for PayAnywhere. First, I’m worried by their independent salesforce. NAB makes big promises of cash bonuses to agents who sell “free tablet” accounts. This worries me because (a) that money must be coming from somewhere, and (b) it might encourage agents to be less than completely honest about overall cost and contract terms. Along those lines, I’m also not particularly impressed by some of the fee information for PayAnywhere (read the full review for more info).
Some merchants will find a uniquely awesome deal with this service – but many other will not. My advice to you is to be careful and make sure that this service will work for your processing needs, especially if you are interested in the so-called “free” tablet.
Good luck, and check out the in-depth review below for a complete analysis! To compare PayAnywhere to its competitors, check out this handy comparison chart.
Products and Services:
- Tablet and stand rental: This is the major new selling point PayAnywhere provides. Since so many of Square’s features are iPad-only, and iPads are pretty expensive, a lot of merchants are left looking for another option. PayAnywhere gives you a free tablet. It’s not an iPad. Actually, it’s a custom android-based tablet made just for using the PayAnywhere system. You won’t be able to play Angry Birds on it, but it will do an excellent job running the payments app. Also, Square charges about $100 for its Square Stand. With PayAnywhere, the stand is built-in and comes free. I should mention that this is only “free” as long as you process over $5000 per month. If during any month you process less than that, you will be charged an additional $79 that month. Be aware, though that you will be responsible for paying the full price if you damage the equipment – about $900.
- Equipment rentals: if you are using the tablet/stand combo, a cash drawer and receipt printer can be rented separately for about $10 each monthly.
- PayPal acceptance: Along with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, you can also take PayPal payments with PayAnywhere from within the app.
- Unlimited sub-users: A great feature for businesses with large sales teams, many mobile providers allow multiple users accounts, but most limit the number.
- Next-day funding: In most cases you should have access to your funds within 24 hours, but I’ve seen reports of deposit delays.
- In-app and online reporting: This allows you to track your sales and learn more about the spending habits of your customers.
PayAnywhere App Features:
- Accept credit and cash transactions
- Custom discounts, tips
- Include tax by location
- Inventory management with descriptions, images, categories (no count feature)
- Email receipts
- Unlimited sub-users
- In-app reporting plus online reporting
- Free headphone jack reader or free tablet/stand/reader rental
- QuickBooks integration
Fees and Rates:
Storefront Plan – $5,000+ per month (monthly fee, includes tablet and stand rental)
- Monthly fee – $12.95
- Swiped – 1.69%
- Business/Rewards – 2.69%
- Keyed – 3.69% + $0.19
They do not disclose their PCI compliance fee here, but within your contract you will see it assessed at $79 annually. This will be charged within 90 days of your account approval.
If you don’t read the fine print, you might miss this fee:
- Minimum Volume Fee $79.00/mo
This is a pretty substantial penalty. If you don’t process at least $5,000 in card transactions every month, you will be charged this fee on top of your normal fees.
By signing up for the tablet placement program, merchant represents and warrants that it processes at least $5,000 per month in Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express transactions (the “monthly target amount”). If merchant does not meet the monthly target amount … merchant agrees to pay a $79.00 fee for each and every complete calendar month that merchant’s monthly processing with the equipment does not meet or exceed the monthly target amount.
Mobile Plan (pay-as-you-go, includes card reader)
- 2.69% for all swiped transactions
- 3.49% + $0.19 for all keyed in transactions
- No monthly fee
- No PCI Compliance fee
- Chargeback fee – $25 every time someone charges back a transaction.
- NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds) fee – $25 whenever PayAnywhere tries to debit your account but you don’t have the funds.
- Retrieval fee – $15 every time your customer or your customer’s issuing bank requests a copy of a sales receipt for any given transaction.
If you choose to rent equipment, the following fees will be assessed:
- Printer rental monthly fee – $14.95
- Printer and cash drawer rental monthly fee - $19.95
Customer Service and Support:
PayAnywhere offers 24/7 phone support. However, judging from the negative reviews, the quality of that support is debatable. I called them myself to see how the phone support was, and I wasn’t impressed either. I was put on hold for over 15 minutes before I was finally able to chat with someone on the phone. Their live chat service isn’t something to brag about either. After waiting for an operator for 45 minutes, I finally gave up and cancelled the session. I figured this was a one-off situation so I tried the same thing the next day and was placed in their queue for another 30 minutes. Not exactly speedy service if you ask me.
In addition to phone support they also offer:
- Email Support – If you’re not having any luck via phone or live chat, try emailing them. I emailed them in regards to the chargeback, NSF, and retrieval fees. It took them about 24hrs to respond with an email stating that, “The information that you requested is not available through email…” Rather, they suggested that I call in. Really? It’s such a simple question.
- Knowledgebase – There’s a help center listed on the PayAnywhere website which you can also access through the mobile app. It’s nowhere near as in-depth as the knowledgebase offered by Square, but it is useable.
- Youtube Videos – They have a bunch of Youtube tutorials that can come in handy if you need a visual walkthrough.
- Social Media – PayAnywhere is active both on Twitter and Facebook, so you can reach out to them on those channels if you like. It would be nice if they had an account dedicated solely to customer support related tweets.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
PayAnywhere’s has a seperate BBB profile from North American Bancard, their parent company. is actually fairly clean. They have an A+ rating with 159 complaints in the past three years, 57 of which occurred in the last year. This is fair number of complaints, but at least they have remained stable for the last three years, with about 50 complaints for each 12 months. Unfortunately, no details are available for any of these complaints.
I read quite a few complaints about PayAnywhere over the course of this review. I pulled data from several different sources including iTunes and Amazon reviews. Based on that research I was able to dig up a couple of major complaints about PayAnywhere:
- Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts – PayAnywhere seems to be pretty trigger happy when it comes to suspicion of fraud. There were a bunch of complaints from unhappy business owners claiming that their funds took too long to reach their bank account, and an equal number of complaints about frozen or terminated accounts. This is definitely something to be wary of, especially if you think that your business falls into the high-risk category. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the your e-cigarettes business won’t have any problems with using PayAnywhere. You can also learn how to avoid holds, freezes, and terminations here.
This is what PayAnywhere has to say in the Agreement:
Suspension/Reserve/Recovery/Pooling of Funds: PA may temporarily suspend or delay payments to you or withhold or reserve your funds in order to secure your performance of your obligations to PA. This action may arise for any reason, including the occurrence or suspected occurrence of Transaction chargebacks or refunds, for which you are responsible. A chargeback will occur if the Transaction (a) is disputed, (b) is reversed for any reason, (c) was not authorized or PA has any reason to believe that the Transaction was not authorized, or (d) is allegedly unlawful, suspicious, or in violation of this Agreement. The amounts suspended, delayed or reserved shall be initially determined, and may be increased or decreased, in PA’s reasonable discretion as necessary to cover potential financial exposure on the part of PA. You grant PA a security interest in and lien on any and all funds held in any such reserve, and also authorize PA to make any withdrawals or debits from such reserve, without prior notice to you, to collect amounts that you owe PA. This security interest survives for as long as PA holds your funds in reserve.
- Poor customer service – Another common complaint was in regards to PayAnywhere’s customer service, more specifically, their phone support. There were too many complaints for me to ignore this one. I personally didn’t have the greatest experience with their support either. Although their phone support was good, I had to for over an hour to speak to a live chat representative.
A less frequent complaint was:
- Hidden fees – If you read the “Fees and Rates” section above you’ll know why there were a few complaints about this.
- Annoying banner ad at top of customer receipts – If you’ve looked at customer receipts you’ll know that PayAnywhere likes to advertise themselves right at the top. Really guys? They’re my customers, not yours.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Here are the most common positive reviews that I read about PayAnywhere:
- Easy to use – There were plenty of comments about this one.
- Nice features – A lot of people like the inventory itemization feature.
That’s about it. There wasn’t anything else that really blew people away about PayAnywhere. It’s a good mobile payment option with good features…end of story.
For a certain subset of merchants, I can see certain aspects of the PayAnywhere system being very successful. The free tablet deal is certainly unique among similar competitors – but I’m afraid only a small number of merchants will find this offer satisfactory. It only really makes sense if you:
- Will be processing over $5000 per month every single month
- Don’t need inventory count ability
- Are not interested in POS customizability or add-ons
- Want a tablet-based POS but don’t want to purchase a tablet
If you end up paying the $79 fee, which is ostensibly a rental fee on the tablet/stand for low-volume merchants, then it quickly becomes a very bad deal indeed. So if you foresee the possibility that you might occasionally fall short of the $5K monthly volume, please don’t sign up for the “free” tablet option.
All in all, it’s not bad for a free software and free-rental hardware. PayAnywhere has a pretty unique offering here, but I consider it a budget option, and not necessarily the best option if you can afford to upgrade.
To compare PayAnywhere to some of our favorite mobile providers, check out this comparison chart. Good luck in your search!