PayPal Here Review
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- Date Established
- San Jose, CA
NOTE: PayPal Here is still not available for Canadian merchants, although a small pilot program did launch in Canada. We’ve received a lot of inquires about this, and will post an update if we ever hear about any changes from PayPal.
If you’ve used eBay, chances are you’ve used PayPal. And if you haven’t used eBay, you probably don’t own a computer. (Or you shop on Amazon.)
Seriously though, PayPal has 173 million active accounts. It processed 4 billion payments in 2014. The company is massive, even if merchant payment processing only makes up one part of the overall business.
We already reviewed PayPal as a merchant service provider, so a lot of that information also pertains to its Paypal Here mobile processing service. It’s worth noting that as of July 2015, Paypal is no longer part of the eBay, Inc. corporate family. We were hoping that after the split we’d see some new features coming to Paypal Here, but so far there have not been any significant changes. However, we like the service enough that we’re still holding out hope.
PayPal Here (PPH), the payment giant’s mobile processor, launched in 2012, after services like Square and PayAnywhere demonstrated that pay-as-you-go, standalone mobile payment processing accounts were in high demand. It fast became a major force to contend with, and with the brand recognition and quite a lot of money backing it, that’s no surprise.
While you’ll need a PayPal Business or Premier account to use PPH, the upgrade from a personal account comes free of charge and happens automatically as part of the sign-up process. After that, you just download the app and then, voilà — you can start processing. PayPal will mail you a free magstripe card reader, or you can pick one up at participating stores (including Staples) for $15, and PayPal will reimburse you for the purchase. It couldn’t be any easier, and the whole thing comes with no strings attached. You won’t have to return the card reader if you decide to cancel, nor will you have to pay any cancellation fees.
PayPal Here is sometimes touted as one of the best Square alternatives, and I’d definitely recommend PayPal Here over Square. Heck, I’d also recommend it over PayAnywhere. PPH has better features and comparable pricing. I love the almost-instantaneous funding to my PayPal account alongside the PayPal debit card for quick access to the cash. The magstripe card reader has a very usable, stable design, which is more than we can say about the boxy Square swiper, and their EMV card reader is capable of processing more payment methods than Square’s.
A lot of people out there have had bad experience with PayPal, but it’s a complicated situation because of how diverse PayPal’s services are, and because of how much of PayPal’s business comes from eBay, even after the companies have split.
That said, I honestly believe the company offers good quality service overall, and especially as a standalone mobile payment processor. I’m not sure I’d be ready to take the leap and have PayPal Here as my only way to accept payment, especially for higher-volume businesses — but then again, you don’t have to. It costs you nothing to keep PPH as an option on top of a traditional merchant account.
For merchants who process low or sporadic volumes, it could save you a ton of money in fees (no statement fee, no monthly minimum, no PCI fee, no annual fee, no rate increases…). You do the math. If you work in a high-risk industry, though, we strongly recommend you look elsewhere. We found Flint Mobile to be a more reliable mobile processor overall, but the best fit for your business will depend in part on the features you need.
I’m completely comfortable giving PayPal Here 4 stars for now, and I hope it continues to improve.
Check out the full review for more information, and please leave a comment with your thoughts or experiences!
Products and Services:
PayPal Here offers all of the basic features you’d expect, plus some nice surprises. What’s probably most convenient about PPH is how easily it integrates with the rest of PayPal’s features. Whether you sell online, in a store, on the go, or a combination thereof, PayPal has a solution that works — and loads of partnerships to boot.
As far as PPH is concerned, here’s the feature rundown:
- Mobile credit and debit processing: Accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express cards.
- Free mobile app (that’s easy to use): Available for Android, iOS, and even Windows 8.1 devices (more on that later).
- Free audio jack swiper: Need your card swiper right away? Buy one at a local store for $15 and PayPal will reimburse you. Otherwise, if you can wait, they’ll mail you one for free.
- Chip card/contactless reader: Accept chip-and-PIN, NFC and magstripes with Paypal’s bluetooth chip card reader. It will cost you $149, but if you process more than $3,000 within 3 months after activation, Paypal will reimburse you $100.
- Manage multiple users under one account: If you have a team of users, you can create secondary accounts and assign permissions.
- Mobile POS: Set up a tablet with PayPal Here and integrate one of PayPal’s partner solutions to set up a complete POS system suited to retail and restaurant environments, among others.
- Same-day funding: Funds go to your PayPal account almost immediately. Sign up for a PayPal merchant debit card and get access to the cash right away even when you’re not spending it online. As a bonus, it’ll make your bookkeeping easier if you only use it for business expenses.
- Cash and check recording: Manage all of your payments in one place with the ability to log cash and check payments. There’s even a QuickBooks integration.
- Card info capture by camera: This is not an easy feature to find, but if keying in a number is frustrating to you, PPH does have a feature where you can scan the card number using your device’s camera. To access it, you’ll have to disconnect the reader. If you select the “Card Number” option after hitting charge, you arrive at a screen where you can either manually enter the card information or hit the camera icon, which will take you to the scanner.
- Invoicing: This comes as part of the broader PayPal business account, but you can in fact send invoices to customers. The invoice itself is free to send, but when you get paid, Paypal takes out 2.9% plus $0.30 — or less, if you have a volume discount. You can create invoices directly within the PayPal Here app.
On the off chance you’ve forgotten, EMV rolled around on October 1, 2015. Paypal’s new reader is capable of supporting chip-and-PIN and contactless payments, as well as magstripes (so you don’t have to juggle multiple readers). It costs $149, but if you process $3,000 within 3 months, they’ll give you a $100 rebate. If you can get the rebate, that’s a better deal than Square’s $49 contactless option, since Paypal’s is capable of accepting PINs and magstripes. Many payment processors are struggling to get their EMV compliant hardware on the market, so it’s nice to see that Paypal is ready.
Otherwise, I’m a bit disappointed to see that PPH hasn’t really added more features than it’s added since our last check-in. But something new I am excited about is support for Windows. Not many processors design apps that work with Windows mobile devices, but in January of 2015, PayPal announced that the app would be available for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and other Windows 8.1 devices. And unlike PPH in Canada, you can actually find the app in the Windows App Store.
Since our last check-in, PPH has dropped one feature: its check deposit feature. Around mid 2014, PayPal quietly eliminated the ability to take a photo of a check, cash it, and deposit those funds in your PayPal account. It’s an odd move considering that more and more mobile banking apps are incorporating it — but maybe it was underused.
Flint, a top contender for mobile processing, also uses your device’s camera to capture card information. There’s no swiper required. If that’s a feature you like, we highly suggest checking out Flint — it earned a 5-star rating. It also has a recording feature for cash and check transactions — and debit card processing rates are just 1.95% (credit is 2.95%).
Something I would very much like to see, that Square has already implemented, is an offline mode. Sometimes, try as you might, an Internet signal is just not available. In those cases, PPH is useless for processing cards, but Square will actually let you swipe cards and then store that information for up to 72 hours. Yes, there are some liability issues, but it’s a very good feature — and a much better alternative to a manual credit card machine when you don’t have Internet.
At this point, there’s a substantial number of devices supporting PayPal Here, which is a major advantage. Your device is going to need a 3.5 mm headphone jack, if you’re using the magstripe swiper, or bluetooth enabled if you’re using the chip card reader. You’ll also need internet support (cellular or Wi-Fi), and location services enabled. Here’s what you need to know about compatibility:
iOS: PPH supports iPhone 3GS and newer, as well as all iPads and iPad Minis. All devices must be running iOS 7.0 or later, as well.
Android: Smartphones and tablets must be running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Tablet support is new since our last check-in, but includes Samsung Galaxy Tab models and the Galaxy Nexus 10.
Windows: Smartphones and tablets must be running Windows 8.1. Support for Windows is slightly less widespread, as you might imagine, but here are some of the supported devices:
- Surface Pro 3, 2, and RT
- HP Elitepad 1000
- Asus Vivotab Note 8
- Dell Venue Pro 8
- Nokia Lumia 1520
- Nokia Lumia 830
- Nokia Lumia 635
- Nokia Lumia 630
- Nokia Lumia 520
- BLU Win HD
Fees and Rates:
PayPal does a spectacularly great job at disclosing its fees and rates. Apart from the transactions themselves, you pay nothing — unless there’s a chargeback. Now, if you need more features (such as a full e-commerce setup to go with your mobile reader), you might want to look at PayPal Payments Pro — that’ll run you $30 a month.
If you’re just using PPH, though, this is what you can expect to pay:
- Swiped Transactions: 2.7%
- Keyed-In or Scanned Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- PayPal Transactions: 2.7%
- Cross-Border Transactions, Swiped and PayPal: 3.7%
- Cross-Border Transactions, Keyed In or Scanned: 4.5% + $0.15
You won’t see any:
- Monthly/annual fees
- PCI compliance fees
- Set up fees
- Equipment fees
…or any other fees not mentioned above. There really are no hidden fees with PayPal or its mobile solution. The only thing you should be aware of — that isn’t readily disclosed — is the $20 chargeback fee. That’s pretty standard in the industry because dealing with chargebacks is a headache for any payment processor.
Since our last check-in, PayPal has also amended its processing limits for keyed-in or scanned payments. Before, $2,500 or more in keyed transactions during a rolling 7-day period would trigger a PayPal hold for 30 days. The wording is considerably more vague in the user agreement from October 1, 2015:
- Actions We May Take. PayPal, in its sole discretion, may take various reasonable actions we determine are necessary when we believe there may be a high level of risk associated with you, your Account, or any or all of your transactions. Such reasonable actions may include placing a hold or reserve on funds in your Account, requesting additional collateral from you such as a letter of credit or a personal guaranty, or limiting transactions to those made within the country of your account. PayPal may contact your customers on your behalf in the event PayPal is investigating potential fraud. More information about the actions we may take and your liability can be found under Section 10 of [Paypal’s] User Agreement.
Conceivably, there’s still a limit to keyed-in transactions you can handle before PayPal gets suspicious and puts a hold on your account. Unfortunately, we no longer know what that limit is.
For a comprehensive list of all PayPal fees, both for mobile processing at everything else, check out this useful page.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
You are completely free to close your PayPal Here account at any time, or to simply cease using the PPH app for processing and keep your PayPal account. You won’t find any early termination fees or stipulations in your merchant agreement. Considering the industry standard is a three-year agreement with a $300-$400 early termination fee, I’m pretty satisfied with PayPal in this category.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
As we said in our main PayPal review, sales and advertising are incredibly upfront. All of PayPal’s rates are listed in plain sight, so there’s no hidden agenda. Most of its business comes directly through the website or via referrals. PayPal doesn’t have the traditional sales team “pounding the pavement” and harassing potential customers just to make a sale. This is the way business should be done in my opinion. PayPal has managed to solve a problem so well it doesn’t need to shove a product down your throat.
I couldn’t ask for anything more from PayPal Here advertising, except maybe more overt disclosure of the chargeback fee.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
For PayPal Here, you’ll be using PayPal’s main support system. As we covered in our main PayPal merchant service review, PayPal has bunch of different customer service and support options including:
- Quick Answers
- Resource Center
- Community Forum
- Phone/Email: (Monday-Friday 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST, Saturday/Sunday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST). Judging from the online chatter (see “Negative Reviews and Complaints”), PayPal’s phone support is very inconsistent. My advice is to avoid calling if at all possible. Answers to most common problems can be found with just a little bit of searching. Between the community forum, quick answers section, and resource center, you should be able to find a solution.
PayPal is also very active on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. It even has an AskPaypal Twitter account where reps will field your service and support questions Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time.
The almost non-existent customer service offered by Square is one of the major complaints coming from merchants, so I’m thrilled to see PayPal doing better in the service department.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t have a separate BBB account for its PayPal Here processing, so we’re stuck wading through the 5,172 complaints (down from 6,089) filed in the last three years on PayPal’s main account. (It’s got an A+ rating though, if that means anything to you).
That’s an enormous number of complaints, no doubt about it. But when you actually start reading the complaints and PayPal’s responses, you’ll be impressed. PayPal responds to each concern in a very professional and complete manner, almost always giving refunds even when they don’t have any obligation to. The other issue is that unlike traditional merchant account providers, PayPal is also a consumer-facing business, so a substantial number of complaints also come from users who have had issues with sellers, problems with their accounts and fraud, and any number of other concerns that end users face. The complaints against PayPal don’t all come from merchants. And don’t forget, PayPal and eBay do a massive amount of business together, and so that is also a source of complaints.
The one complaint that you should definitely take to heart is this:
- Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts: PayPal seems to be pretty trigger happy when it comes to suspicion of fraud. It has a history of dealing with major fraud issues, so naturally they scrutinize accounts pretty closely. If you think that your business falls into the high-risk category, then you should know that it’s possible PayPal may withhold some of your funds or even freeze or shut your account down. It may be best to go with a high-risk processor like Durango Merchant Services or Payline Data instead. You can also learn how to avoid holds, freezes, and terminations here.
Still, PayPal seems to do this less than Square does. I don’t know how comfortable I’d be having any of these standalone mobile processors as my sole means to accept cards, since they all are prone to freezes and withheld funds because of a greater risk of fraud.
- Inconsistent customer service: Much like Square, PayPal’s customer support is designed to efficiently solve 95% of problems with minimal human interaction. When a service works with such a huge base of users, this is necessary in order to keep prices low across the board. But unfortunately that remaining 5% often represent the most pressing problems, including account-specific issues like fraud, chargebacks, funding holds, account suspensions, billing errors, and so on. When it comes dealing with these problems, merchants need to speak with a well-trained and articulate support representative. Unfortunately, judging by complaints, much of the time this doesn’t seem to happen.
But again, Square doesn’t offer any phone-based support. So if you are comparing the two, PayPal definitely comes out on top.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
You can find a demo video that explains how PPH works on YouTube. It covers the basics, but doesn’t include any testimonials.
From what I read, users find these features the most useful:
- Quick funding and access to cash with PayPal debit card
- Well-designed card reader
- Ability to accept payments through PayPal accounts
- No hidden fees
I recommend PayPal Here to anyone interested in standalone, pay-as-you-go mobile processing. While it has some shortcomings when compared to traditional merchant account providers, PPH outperforms other mobile processor in my opinion, with better features, comparable pricing, and overall superior user experience. I love the almost-instant funding to my PayPal account alongside the PayPal debit card for quick access to the cash. Most other processors, traditional or pay-as-you-go, take at least 24 hours, but typically 48 hours.
I’m completely comfortable giving PayPal Here a solid 4 stars. It’s no longer our top-rated mobile processor — that honor goes to Flint — but it’s a very respectable rating. If PayPal could work on its customer service, and iron out some of the kinks in its holding process, that would be fantastic… and it might just be enough to bump the rating up.
What’s your experience with PayPal Here? Good, bad, somewhere in between? If you have insights, please leave a comment!