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The Complete Guide To Accepting Apple Pay For Business: What You’ll Need & How Much It Costs

Apple Pay is a popular option for accepting alternative and contactless payments.

    Chris Motola
  • UPDATED

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Apple Pay

If you’re a small business owner who has not started accepting Apple Pay for your business, you might be wondering how to go about it.

The good news is — other than the fact that you might have to upgrade your card terminal or reader — there’s nothing extra you have to pay to process the payment.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to accept Apple Pay as a business.

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  • An all-around excellent processor with great pricing, great products, and excellent customer support.
  • Apple Pay readers from $295
  • $25/month
  • An all-around excellent processor with great pricing, great products, and excellent customer support.
  • Apple Pay readers from $295
  • $25/month

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  • Affordable, transparent processor offering small businesses interchange-plus pricing
  • Apple Pay readers from $109
  • No monthly fee
  • Affordable, transparent processor offering small businesses interchange-plus pricing
  • Apple Pay readers from $109
  • No monthly fee

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  • Great processor for those just starting out or for lower-volume businesses that want to start taking credit cards right away.
  • Apple Pay readers from $49
  • No monthly fee
  • Great processor for those just starting out or for lower-volume businesses that want to start taking credit cards right away.
  • Apple Pay readers from $49
  • No monthly fee

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  • Traditional merchant account provider with interchange-plus pricing and no early termination fee.
  • Apple Pay readers from $59
  • No monthly fee
  • Traditional merchant account provider with interchange-plus pricing and no early termination fee.
  • Apple Pay readers from $59
  • No monthly fee

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  • Restaurant-friendly merchant services with excellent customer service.
  • Inquire for terminal pricing
  • $14.99/mo
  • Restaurant-friendly merchant services with excellent customer service.
  • Inquire for terminal pricing
  • $14.99/mo

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Why Your Small Business Needs To Accept Apple Pay

Apple Pay is a secure, convenient payment method that can allow your customers to buy your services without having cash or even a credit card on their person. Customers can use any payment method stored in their mobile wallet to pay.

While Apple doesn’t seem to separately disclose the number of users for Apple Pay, however, it is estimated by other sources that Apple Pay might have at least 507 million users worldwide. Why not make it easy for them to pay at your business?

How Much Are Apple Pay Merchant Fees?

Aside from acquiring an NFC-compatible reader or terminal, there are no additional costs for accepting Apple Pay as a business. For credit card purchases made in person, your card-present rate will apply, and for purchases made online, the card-not-present rate will be used.

If you do not own an NFC-capable reader or terminal, you’ll have to invest some money to upgrade. We have several articles that can help you select your next terminal. If you like to use Apple products as much as your customers who use Apple Pay, we even have an article on the best credit card readers for an iPhone or iPad. There are also articles to help you finance your new purchases if necessary. We hope these articles will help you make a decision.

How To Accept Apple Pay

To accept Apple Pay, you’ll need an NFC-reader that can process Apple Pay transactions. This means you’ll need a payment processor compatible with NFC-readers and, for eCommerce, a payment gateway that can process Apple Pay transactions.

We’ve gathered a small collection of Apple Pay-friendly payment processors to help you get started.

1. Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma Merchant Services


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Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing offered exclusively
  • No annual fee or monthly minimum
  • Month-to-month billing
  • Discounted prices for nonprofits

Cons

  • Not suitable for low-volume businesses
  • U.S. merchants only

Dharma is a five-star-rated processor at Merchant Maverick. This means they provide transparent pricing, great products and services, excellent customer and technical support, and various terminals, readers, and POS hardware for you to pick from. Merchants are happy with their services, and there are little to no customer complaints on the internet. The only types of businesses we would steer away from Dharma would be merchants in high-risk industries and startup/micro-businesses that process less than $10,000 per month.

Apple Pay Compatible Hardware Offered By Dharma Merchant Services

On its website, Dharma prominently discloses that its hardware can accept Apple Pay, so you can rest easy that you’ll have no problems if you switch to Dharma. They offer the following NFC-capable hardware:

  • VeriFone Engage V200c Terminal: $295
  • Dejavoo Z11: $295
  • FirstData FD-150 with RP-10 PinPad: $480
  • Clover Mini: $899
  • Clover Flex: $599

Get Started With Dharma Merchant Services

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2. Helcim

Helcim


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Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing offered exclusively
  • Extensive account fee disclosures
  • Not long-term contracts or monthly fees

Cons

  • Not available to high-risk merchants

Small businesses looking for a simple, transparent, and cost-effective way to accept credit cards will find a lot to like in Helcim. In addition to basic credit and debit card processing, it offers an integrated payment platform. Also notable is that Helcim offers interchange-plus pricing to all customers with no monthly fee.

Apple Pay Compatible Hardware Offered By Helcim

Helcim offers a single, versatile proprietary reader:

  • Helcim Card Reader: $109

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3. Square

Square


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Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Extensive feature set
  • Affordable hardware

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

Square is yet another one of our favorites here at Merchant Maverick. We like Square for many reasons, but among the top are its variety of services and its easy-to-understand pricing structure. Square is good for low-volume/startup merchants who need to start processing credit cards immediately.

Apple Pay Compatible Hardware Offered By Square

Square’s credit card machines are proprietary. The ones that will take contactless payments are:

  • Square Register: $799
  • Square Terminal: $299
  • Square Stand (you supply your own iPad): $149
  • Square Reader for Contactless and Chip (this is their mobile system): $49

Get Started With Square

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4. Stripe

Stripe Payments


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Pros

  • Excellent developer tools
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Ideal for international merchants
  • Affordable readers

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • Limited support for in-person transactions

Popular eCommerce payment processor Stripe can easily accommodate Apple Pay payments online. While in-person transactions aren’t its forte, Stripe can still support Apple Pay NFC payments through Stripe Terminal. Overall, Stripe is a great platform for tech-savvy companies that want to stay on the cutting edge of payment innovation or to reach an international audience.

Apple Pay Compatible Hardware Offered By Stripe

Stripe Terminal offers some Apple Pay-compatible readers:

  • Stripe Reader M2: $59
  • BBPOS WisePOS E: $249

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5. Host Merchant Services

Host Merchant Services


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Pros

  • Transparent interchange-plus pricing
  • No early termination fee
  • Cash-discount programs
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Not suitable for low-volume merchants

Host Merchant Services is a transparent merchant account provider particularly well-suited to the restaurant industry. The company even offers local, on-site troubleshooting for malfunctioning terminals within 150 miles of its offices in Newark, DE and Naples, FL.

Apple Pay Compatible Hardware Offered By Host Merchant Services

Host Merchant Services offers a number of terminals compatible with Apple Pay. Host Merchant Services does not disclose the cost of its terminals upfront, so you’ll want to inquire about any model you’re interested in:

  • Valor VL500 Android POS
  • Valor VL100
  • FD-150
  • Dejavoo QD2
  • Dejavoo QD4
  • Ingenico Desk 3500
  • PAX A920
  • PAX A80
  • Dejavoo Z8
  • Dejavoo Z9

Get Started With Host Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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Accepting Apple Pay Online VS. Accepting Apple Pay In Person

From a merchant’s standpoint, accepting Apple Pay is fairly easy if you operate a physical store, but might require some coding if you run a website.

How To Accept Apple Pay In Stores

To accept Apple Pay in stores, you must have a terminal or reader that can read NFC signals (sometimes the term contactless payments is used). If you do not have one, upgrading and buying one through your existing processor is relatively easy. You should have plenty to choose from. In case you’d like a little help, we have articles on terminals, readers, and point of sale systems to help you decide.

Assuming you already have the necessary equipment, all you have to do to initiate Apple Pay (and Google Pay and Samsung Pay) is to contact your payment card processor. They may have to install or activate some software on your machines, but, after that, you should be good to go taking the payments. Note that Apple Pay includes a cash service called Apple Cash. If you can already accept Discover debit contactless transactions, then you should be able to take Apple Cash without issues. If you’re not set up for Discover debit contactless payments, then speak to your processor so they can set everything up for you, including installing firmware if necessary.

How To Accept Apple Pay On The Web

To accept Apple Pay on the Web (or in an app), you might be able to use some ready-made eCommerce plugins, or you might have to do some coding or hire someone who can. Note, though, that when we say “accept Apple Pay,” we mean have an Apple Pay button displayed on your website so a customer can pay by just hitting the button. If you do not wish to invest in the coding, your customers can still conveniently use the Safari browser’s auto-fill feature to insert a lot of the payment information into the payment card fields at the checkout screen, but this feature is not a part of Apple Pay.

On its website, Apple offers a list of payment platforms that offer easy plugins and a list of processors they have confirmed can integrate with Apple Pay.

Are Apple Pay Transactions Secure?

If you ask a hacker, nothing is ever secure. Having said this, however, Apple seems to have done everything reasonable to make the Apple Pay service secure. What follows is a detailed and somewhat technical description of how the security features of Apple Pay work.

According to Apple, Apple Pay has the following security components:

  • Secure Element (SE): The SE is a highly encrypted part of the NFC chip. It’s used to store any information that needs high security. The financial industry has certified the SE to be compliant with their security standards for electronic payments, so the SE is where Apple Pay stores tokenized credit card information. Apple uses an SE to store the token even when the device is not advertised as having NFC capabilities. Through teardown reports, we know that there’s an NFC chip on the newer iPads and MacBook Air (see Step 7) and Pros, where only the Secure Element is used, but other functions like NFC transmission capabilities are disabled. This explains why every time you add even the same card to an additional Apple device, you have to enter the card information and get a new token–so the token can be stored in the SE of that new device.
  • NFC Controller: The NFC Controller manages and transmits tokenized card information. If the payment is made via a browser or through an app, then the NFC Controller manages the communication between the SE and the app or browser. If the payment is made in person, the NFC Controller manages the communication between the SE and the credit card terminal/reader.
  • Apple Wallet: This is the software used to add, view, and otherwise manage credit, debit, and some ID cards to the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and some Macs. Note some payment information can be stored by and viewed from this app, but the credit card tokens are not stored in this app. Instead, they are stored in the SE.
  • Secure Enclave: This is an Apple proprietary processor running separately and isolated from the rest of the device. It handles all the encryption/decryption of data inside the device when the hardware and software systems inside the device talk to each other. The Secure Enclave is involved in verifying your identity whenever Face ID or Touch ID is used. When applied specifically to Apple Pay, the Secure Enclave authenticates the transaction and allows the transaction to proceed.
  • Apple Pay Server: The Apple Pay Server is a secure server that manages the setup process when a card is added to Apple Wallet. When a credit card number is sent from an Apple device to the Apple Pay Server, the Apple device uses an encryption method that only Apple knows. The server receives this encrypted information, decrypts it, and then encrypts it again, but this time using an encryption scheme that the credit card associations can decode. Then it sends the newly encrypted information to the credit card association. The credit card association tokenizes the card number and sends the token back to the Apple Pay Server, which then sends it back to the Apple device to be stored in the SE. The Apple Pay Server also manages the web-based and in-app purchasing process by encrypting and decrypting various information before sending the information (e.g. payment credentials) from the device.

If you’re interested in learning the details, Apple’s recent article explains its security process for Apple Pay. Note they use the term Device Account Number instead of token.

4 Benefits To Accepting Apple Pay As A Merchant

Sure, accepting Apple Pay is low risk, but why worry about upgrading your terminals when you already have a perfectly serviceable point of sale setup? Here are some reasons:

1. Convenience

You never want to lose out on a sale because it was too inconvenient for the customer to pay you with their preferred payment method. Apple Pay lets customers pay even if they left their wallets at home.

2. Security

Apple Pay terminals encrypt and change a customer’s card data during a transaction, making it much harder for cybercriminals to intercept bank and card info. Merchants and customers can enjoy even greater peace of mind when making payments with Apple Pay in light of a new data security standard issued by the PCI Security Standards Council, which allows vendors to give merchants tap-and-go payment solutions developed and vetted in the lab for the sake of payment data protection.

3. Transaction Speed

Apple Pay transactions are slightly faster than magstripe and EMV credit card transactions, which can keep your checkout lines moving along quickly.

4. You Get A Competitive Edge

While it may not be at the top of their priority list, customers who prefer to pay with their phones may be more positively inclined toward businesses that allow them to use Apple Pay.

How To Get Apple Pay Terminals & Readers

Good providers of compatible Apple Pay terminals are essential to accepting Apple Pay payments from your customers, and there are a few things to keep in mind as you search for a provider that’s right for you.

First things first: avoid equipment leasing at all costs. Equipment leasing has been around for a long time, but it’s simply not practical or cost-effective for small businesses navigating a post-COVID business landscape. Look instead for providers of Apple Pay-compatible terminals that provide plans for either paying out of pocket or that allow 0% financing. Long-term agreements such as contracts almost always include hard-to-spot clauses that punish businesses with heavy fees and penalties in the event of premature agreement termination.

Stick With Your Current Provider If You Can

Your current provider may not currently offer a reasonable way to accept Apple Pay. Still, with contactless terminals and readers becoming more and more common, there’s a good chance you can stick with your current service. Suppose you’re seriously considering switching to a provider that makes it easy to get started with NFC payment methods such as Apple Pay. In that case, it’s worth getting to know the best credit card processors that already offer Apple Pay-compatible hardware. Cover the ballpark costs of each provider’s options to narrow your decision on the best piece of hardware.

Do You Really Need To Accept Apple Pay At Your Business?

The world is constantly changing, along with the way people do everyday things. We are increasingly moving away from cash or even physical credit cards to pay with our phones instead.

This is why Apple Pay and other digital wallets are becoming widely adopted. Apple users are notoriously brand loyal, so once they use Apple Pay, they tend to stick to this particular digital wallet. If you don’t yet take digital wallet payments, is it time to provide that convenience to your customers and start taking them?

If you already have the proper equipment–an NFC-capable reader or terminal–then, yes, you should start taking Apple Pay. Contact your current processor, see if they can process NFC payments, and have them turn this feature on for your terminal if it’s not on already. It costs you nothing extra to process NFC payments, and you can start taking Apple Pay right away.

If you don’t have the proper equipment or your processor can’t process Apple Pay, then don’t panic. While digital payments are becoming more and more popular, it’s unlikely that your inability to accept Apple Pay will be a purchasing deal-breaker for your customers. Wait until the next cycle to replace equipment or until you have other reasons to switch processors. Then, get the right equipment and connect up. This way, you’ll be able to take Apple Pay with minimum disruption to your business.

In Summary: How To Accept Apple Pay

  1. Dharma Merchant Services:
    • An all-around excellent processor with great pricing, great products, and excellent customer support.
    • Apple Pay readers from $295
    • $25/month
  2. Helcim:
    • Affordable, transparent processor offering small businesses interchange-plus pricing
    • Apple Pay readers from $109
    • No monthly fee
  3. Square:
    • Great processor for those just starting out or for lower-volume businesses that want to start taking credit cards right away.
    • Apple Pay readers from $49
    • No monthly fee
  4. Stripe Payments:
    • Traditional merchant account provider with interchange-plus pricing and no early termination fee.
    • Apple Pay readers from $59
    • No monthly fee
  5. Host Merchant Services:
    • Restaurant-friendly merchant services with excellent customer service.
    • Inquire for terminal pricing
    • $14.99/mo
Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in personal and business loans and financial health, Chris Motola has been writing about small business finance and payments for over 5 years. He has been cited in various industry publications, including Forbes Advisor, GoBankingRates, and Medium. Chris is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
Chris Motola
View Chris Motola's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

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