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 184 million active accounts. It processed 4.9 billion payments in 2015, 28% of which happened on a mobile device (an interesting number we’ll come back to.) The company is massive, even if merchant payment processing only makes up one part of the overall business. (If you dig, you’ll see that PayPal claims more than 8 million businesses use its services.)
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, and we know there’s at least one big one looming on the horizon.
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. 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. The EMV reader also has some advantages compared to Square’s equivalent offering.
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. I personally have read hundreds of PayPal horror stories. But I also know many merchants who are using the service with no trouble, either.
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.
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. That’s admittedly a high price compared to most of the other mobile readers on the market, but bear in mind that NFC support and the pinpad are almost certainly driving the price up.
- Manage multiple users under one account: If you have a team of users, you can create secondary accounts and assign permissions (PayPal brags that you can create 1,000 of these accounts at no extra charge, which is admittedly impressive.)
- 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 send invoices to customers through the web, or directly in the PayPal Here app. 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. Being able to do this in-app is a major plus.
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 slightly better deal than Square’s $49 contactless option, since Paypal’s is capable of accepting PIN and signature chip transactions and magstripes as well. With Square, you need a separate magstripe reader to do card swipes, but at least Square provides for free. Admittedly, Square also has a $29 magstripe/EMV reader — something I would like to see from PayPal, but something I doubt it’s going to ever roll out.
Many mobile payment processors are /still/ struggling to get their EMV-compliant hardware on the market. (It’s been more than 6 months since the shift took place, so what gives?) It’s nice to see that Paypal is on point here, even if it had some hiccups in its launch initially.
I’ve been itching to see what new features PayPal will roll out. Admittedly, developing new features can take time. But I continue to feel excited about the added 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.
Something else looming on the horizon that has me genuinely excited is actually a consumer app feature, but something that will affect PayPal merchants too: tap-to-pay contactless transactions powered by the PayPal app.
Yup, consumers will be able to tap to pay and use their PayPal accounts instead of Apple/Android/Samsung Pay. Which means to get a PayPal payment you won’t necessarily need to invoice customers anymore.
There isn’t a hard firm date for the arrival of this feature beyond some time this year. PayPal has promised to roll out contactless payments first in the U.S. and Australia, and branch out from there. (It’s also working on partnerships with Vodaphone in Spain and other cellular carriers in Mexico.)
We’ll keep you updated when the feature rolls out.
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. I wonder if PayPal will ever resurrect it.
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. Intuit’s new iPad-based QuickBooks POS also has a feature that allows you to process payments without Internet access, but otherwise I have not seen it widely implemented.
It might seem like internet access in 2016 would be a given, so why would you ever need a feature that lets you process without it? Well, sometimes outages happen. And sometimes you find yourself in a space without either Wi-Fi or cell signal. Convention centers in particular are notorious for blocking external Wi-Fi. Often the cellular networks and public Wi-Fi networks are congested and slow just because there are so many people in a relatively confined space. For artists, crafters, and other makers of handmade goods who sell at shows, this is a huge problem. For these merchants, and many other small startups, a pay-as-you-go mobile service is the best (or sometimes only) option — they don’t have the money to shell out for a hardline internet connection or phone line at an event like larger businesses can afford to do. (These services can run hundreds of dollars depending on the venue and length of the event, not counting the addition of electricity to power a computer, register, or card terminal, among other electronic devices.)
While you are left eating the cost for any offline transactions that are declined, I’ve personally not had a problem with it. But this may vary by the event, your customer base, and even your industry. And it’s entirely up to you whether you even want to use offline processing. I would love to see PayPal integrate this feature — it would put PPH slightly above Square once again in my mind.
What else is missing from PayPal Here? Well, a better inventory system would be nice. Right now you can run sales reports but PayPal Here won’t automatically count inventory or deduct when something is sold. Square has a decent inventory system feature, and even Etsy’s reader has it. Some other mPOS systems can integrate with StitchLabs to get inventory capability. So this feels lacking to me.
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 is the $20 chargeback fee. That’s pretty standard in the industry because dealing with chargebacks is a headache for any payment processor.
PayPal has also amended its processing limits for keyed-in or scanned payments. Previously, $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. Not only that, but some of the smaller mobile processors have started implementing a non-activity fee. After a year of inactivity, the company will start charging you $3.99 monthly until you start using the service again or cancel your account.
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. And it’s still at the top of the game and innovating, looking for ways to improve the world commerce.
I couldn’t ask for anything more from PayPal Here advertising. I’ll also say that PayPal is doing a great job with social media overall (though that really is more of a discussion for our full-fledged PayPal review.) It’s not pushing out quite as much educational content for merchants as I see from some other major processors, but you’ll find some good stories and updates on the blog (dubbed PayPal Stories). There’s not a lot of PayPal Here-specific information beyond the sales pages, but I will say that the app is very intuitive. If you’ve looked at your PayPal account at all and read up on on what features are available, you should have no trouble with PPH.
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, even if it’s not perfect.
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 5,392 complaints (slightly up from 5,172, but still lower than 2 years ago, when complaints were more than 6,000) filed in the last three years on PayPal’s main account. (It’s got an A+ rating, but the majority of the 60+ reviews on the BBB are negative).
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. So don’t let the sheer number of complaints fool you. They’re not indicative of PayPal Here’s mobile app or indeed its general PayPal for Businesses branch.
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. But I have always gotten the impression that PayPal Here is more stable than Square, with at least marginally better service.
Which brings me to another concern:
- 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, your ability to reach a reliable support rep is… more luck of the draw.
But again, Square didn’t offer any phone-based support for a long time, and even now, it’s phone service isn’t always that helpful. And Square’s handling of BBB complaints feels far less generous. So if you are comparing the two, PayPal definitely comes out on top.
Want to understand more about how we rate companies and how your comments come into play? Check out our article about negativity bias.
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’ve read online and learned from talks with PayPal Here users, 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
- Seamless integration with PayPal business account
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 not perfect — but it’s a very respectable rating and undoubtedly among the best in mobile processing. 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!