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5 Great Mobile Credit Card Processing & Payment Apps

These mobile payments apps provide reasonable and transparent pricing and robust features for almost any industry.

    Chris Motola
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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
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Credit card processing apps can be powerful tools for merchants. Instead of investing in an expensive POS system, a credit card processing app works on a smartphone or tablet, allowing merchants to use low-cost hardware with an affordable (or even nonexistent) software fee. The terminology can be a bit inconsistent — you might have heard credit card processing apps called point of sale/POS apps or even mPOS (mobile point of sale) apps. The ability to function on a smartphone or tablet (typically iOS or Android) is just one aspect of the equation. These apps also offer small, lightweight mobile card readers rather than full-on credit card terminals that require a dedicated internet connection.

But where do you start to look? What features do you need? How much do these apps cost, and which ones lead the pack? Let’s start by taking a closer look at four very important aspects to consider when choosing a credit card processing app, and then I’ll introduce you to our favorite providers for 2018.

 

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyPros & ConsNext StepsPros & Cons
Square

Read More

Pros:
  • User-friendly
  • Huge software ecosystem
  • Excellent mobile hardware
Cons:
  • Account stability issues
  • Can be expensive for high-volume businesses
Pros:
  • User-friendly
  • Huge software ecosystem
  • Excellent mobile hardware
Cons:
  • Account stability issues
  • Can be expensive for high-volume businesses

Visit Site

Read More

SumUp

Read More

Pros:
  • Inexpensive hardware
  • Great for low volume and low-ticket transactions
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • No eCommerce support
  • Limited features
  • Account stability issues
Pros:
  • Inexpensive hardware
  • Great for low volume and low-ticket transactions
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • No eCommerce support
  • Limited features
  • Account stability issues

Visit Site

Read More

Shopify Lite

Read More

Pros:
  • Easy to scale
  • Huge software ecosystem
  • Free chip reader
  • Supports PayPal payments
Cons:
  • Account stability issues (with Shopify Payments)
  • Does not include full online store
Pros:
  • Easy to scale
  • Huge software ecosystem
  • Free chip reader
  • Supports PayPal payments
Cons:
  • Account stability issues (with Shopify Payments)
  • Does not include full online store

Visit Site

Read More

Intuit GoPayment

Read More

Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive hardware
  • Supports PayPal payments
Cons:
  • Expensive for small ticket transactions
  • Limited features
Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive hardware
  • Supports PayPal payments
Cons:
  • Expensive for small ticket transactions
  • Limited features

Visit Site

Read More

PayPal Zettle

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Pros:
  • Can process international cards
  • In-app invoicing available
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Processes PayPal and Venmo transactions
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • Inconsistent customer support
  • Account stability issues
Pros:
  • Can process international cards
  • In-app invoicing available
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Processes PayPal and Venmo transactions
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • Inconsistent customer support
  • Account stability issues

Visit Site

Read More

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Why Does Your Business Need A Credit Card Processing App?

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has become a more and more common business model in the credit card processing industry. Businesses can now choose between traditional dedicated hardware and local installations or versatile apps that can run on most mobile devices.

While credit card processing apps may not be ideal for every business, they do offer some distinct advantages over traditional setups. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of credit card processing apps:

Pros

  • Portability: Perhaps more than anything else, credit card processing apps offer the ability to make POS transactions far away from dedicated infrastructure, and without the use of carbon paper.
  • Less Dedicated Hardware: If you want to limit the number of dedicated hardware devices in your life, a credit card processing app can turn phones and tablets into serviceable POS systems.
  • Software Platforms: While not unique to credit card processing apps, they are more likely to be part of broader business software bundles. This can be convenient if you’re looking for a one-stop solution.

Cons

  • Suboptimal Hardware: As versatile as smartphones and tablets are, they aren’t designed specifically with credit card processing in mind. You’ll have to deal with the power consumption issues with Bluetooth, OS compatibility issues, and fiddly add-ons. Also consider wear and tear on the devices in question.
  • Troubleshooting: With dedicated hardware, there’s generally less that could go wrong and, when it does, it can be easier to determine the cause.

5 Best Credit Card Payment Apps For Small Business

Credit card processing apps can be the primary service offered by a credit card processor, or a secondary feature. In either case, you’ll want one that meets your particular business needs. Here are some of the best credit card payment apps currently on the market.

1. Square

Square



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Square is one of the best-known names among credit card processing apps. Just about anyone can sign up for a Square account and start accepting credit card payments. The free app, Square Point of Sale, is one of the most advanced mPOS options available, with an extensive array of supported features on both iOS and Android.

But the real value in Square is the all-in-one platform. Square offers free invoicing and a virtual terminal (you just pay the transaction costs), eCommerce integrations and a free online store, plus premium POS apps with competitive pricing, tailored to a range of industries. You can also add on marketing, loyalty, and payroll programs that integrate seamlessly with the rest of the suite. The Square dashboard unifies everything and functions as the centralized control panel for your business, with advanced reporting abilities.

Square’s base transaction rate for in-person transactions is a flat 2.6% + $0.10. Check out The Complete Guide To Square Costs For Payment Processing & Software for a full breakdown of fees.

Get Started with Square

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

2. SumUp

SumUp



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SumUp is a bit like Square’s sophisticated, minimalist European cousin.  SumUp’s standalone mPOS app works in many European countries and expanded into the US a while back. While SumUp’s app is definitely the simplest option on this list, it has the essentials that merchants need for in-person sales.

Like most of the other options on this list, SumUp is a third-party aggregator, so you can sign up and start taking payments very quickly. The app itself is free, and transactions process at 2.75%, which is a competitive rate for businesses processing small transactions.

If you don’t need a lot and just want a well-designed mobile processing app, SumUp is a great choice. Its mobile card readers range from $19 to $59 and accept magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions.

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

3. Shopify Lite

Shopify Lite



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Shopify started solely as an eCommerce provider, but it’s slowly built up its products into a powerful all-in-one platform so you can sell seamlessly online and in person, including its own branded third-party payment service, powered by Stripe. Shopify’s eCommerce tools are top of the line, and its POS app, simply called Shopify POS, is constantly improving.

Shopify POS is included for free with all Shopify eCommerce plans, which start at $29/month. Our full Shopify review breaks down your options for online selling. However, if you’re only interested in the POS and some entry-level selling tools, the Shopify Lite plan, at $9/month, might be appealing. It includes invoicing as well as the ability to create “buy” buttons and a Facebook shop. Shopify’s inventory is on par with Square’s, and most of its other features are closely in line with Square’s as well.

Payments process at 2.7% per transaction for tapped, dipped, or swiped transactions, or 2.9% + $0.30 for keyed transactions for the default Shopify Payments (a white label of Stripe) option. It is possible to change your processor, although in many cases this will add costs.

Get Started with Shopify Lite

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

4. QuickBooks GoPayment

Intuit GoPayment



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Read our Review

QuickBooks is still one of the most recognizable names in accounting software, so it’s no surprise that Intuit has leveraged the brand into mobile payment processing. QuickBooks GoPayment can work as a standalone solution or a part of your current QuickBooks software package.

Unlike many of the other options on this list, QuickBooks GoPayment is not a third-party processor. Instead, you’ll have your own comparatively stable merchant account. As you might expect, GoPayment integrates seamlessly with the rest of the QuickBooks software suite, making it a more appealing solution if you’re already heavily invested in the ecosystem. For standalone users, GoPayment is respectably free of bloat, with straightforward pricing. One highlight: GoPayments allows up to 50 users to operate on a single account.

With regard to fees, you can choose either a paid monthly plan ($20/month) or a “free” pay-as-you-go plan. The former has lower transaction rates than the latter, 1.6%+$0.25 vs. 2.4% + $0.25. A flat $0.25 per transaction makes QuickBooks GoPayments a relatively expensive option for small value transactions, but businesses that sell high-ticket items on the go may find the rates advantageous.

Get Started with Intuit GoPayment

Read our in-depth review

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5. PayPal Zettle

PayPal Zettle



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Read our Review

Formerly PayPal Here, PayPal Zettle represents the eCommerce giant’s foray into in-person payment processing. Ironically, as PayPal’s eCommerce offerings are undergoing a controversial price hike, PayPal Zettle comes across as a competent, fully-featured entry into the mPOS market.

PayPal leverages its extensive infrastructure to make the most of Zettle. In addition to the ability to process credit and debit cards, you’ll be able to process PayPal and Venmo transactions by scanning QR codes. Throw in inventory management, reports, and at-register discounts and you have a well-rounded app that integrates with PayPal’s longstanding features like invoicing, same-day funding, and recurring billing. There’s just one mobile reader available, but your first is only $29 ($79 for each additional).

Card present transactions on PayPal Zettle will run you 2.29 + $0.09, which places it lower than Square’s base rate. High-volume businesses may be able to negotiate better rates.

Read our in-depth review

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Looking For One Of These Credit Card Processing Apps?

There are far more credit card processing apps than the ones we’ve covered above. Let’s take a look at two apps that didn’t quite make our list.

Clover Go

Clover is one of the most recognizable brands in payment processing, with distinct, attractive, and inexpensive hardware. So you’d expect Clover Go, the brand’s mPOS offering, to be a pretty straightforward, user-friendly experience, right?

Unfortunately, Clover Go suffers from some of the issues plaguing the Clover ecosystem more generally. Your terms and pricing may be inconsistent from one processor to another. Worse, you may have to pay additional fees to access features that Clover Go’s competitors will give you for free.

Clover Go may work as a convenience for merchants already using Clover, but businesses that only need a mPOS can probably find a better deal elsewhere.

Payanywhere

Payanywhere is an unusual case. On the surface, Payanywhere’s services are completely adequate, with a competitive 2.69% flat rate for transactions. It’s what Payanywhere doesn’t tell you upfront that can get you in trouble.

The biggest issue with Payanywhere is the two-tiered merchant account agreement that can change the terms of your contract abruptly should you exceed $100,000 in transaction charges for a particular card/service within a specified period of time. At that point, you must enter into a direct agreement with American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or PayPal. At that point, your pay-as-you-go contract becomes a three-year contract complete with early termination fees.

Add in monthly software subscription fees for hardware, and Payanywhere can pile on the extra charges if you’re not careful.

 

Is A Free Credit Card Processing App Always The Best

When free credit card processing apps are an option, it gets pretty hard to make a case for apps that have monthly costs. That doesn’t necessarily mean a free app will always be the best choice for every business, however.

In most cases, free apps mean you’ll be working with a third-party processor. Third-party processors get their names because they essentially act as intermediaries between a merchant account and merchants — the third party processor has its own merchant account, and it essentially onboards new merchants as sub-users of the account. All of those user accounts are lumped together, or aggregated. As a result of this business model, it’s very easy and quick to set up an account with a third-party processor — much more so than with most merchant accounts. The trade-off is that you face a greater amount of scrutiny after you open the account, and your funds could be held or your account terminated without any warning. This tends to be the single greatest complaint about any third-party payment processor, and the number of complaints can be overwhelming. However, the reality is these complaints come from a very small portion of the overall userbase.

That said, a merchant account will always offer more stability than a third-party processor because you go through a more thorough vetting process before signing up. You typically also get more personalized attention, but most merchant accounts are targeted at businesses doing at least $10,000/month in credit card payments.

Do You Need Hardware For Payment Processing Apps?

Strictly speaking, you don’t need a card reader to accept credit card payments. It’s possible to process credit card transactions just by keying them into a virtual terminal. While that might be fine if you only have a credit card transaction once in a while, it’s unlikely to be an ideal solution for everyone else.

Why? Keyed-in transactions are almost always processed at a higher fee than transactions that are swiped, dipped, or tapped. These costs will add up and very quickly exceed the cost of a mobile card reader. And unless you have turbo-fingers, the transactions will process much more quickly as well.

Keep in mind you’ll want a reader that can process EMV and NFC transactions, not just magnetic strip ones. Not only does it offer more convenience to your customers, but it has ramifications for your liability should a fraudulent transaction take place.

6 Essential Features For Mobile Credit Card Processing Apps

Not all credit card processing apps are created equal. Finding the right option means having an understanding of what you and your business need.

Here are some features you’ll want to consider when choosing your mPOS:

  • Reporting Tools: Being able to view reports on the go can be anything from a convenience to an indispensable sales tool.
  • Inventory Tracking: If you’re selling physical goods, it may help to be able to track your inventory in real-time.
  • Operating System Compatibility: Make sure the software runs on your preferred devices.
  • Virtual Terminals: Yes, we did say it’s better to use a reader than a virtual terminal if possible, but it’s good to have a virtual terminal as a backup.
  • Standalone VS Integrated: A standalone POS app is great if you only plan to sell in person. But if you plan to run your business through multiple sales channels, an integrated platform will make managing everything much simpler.
  • Hardware Specs: Not all readers are created equal. A good one can be a valuable asset; a poorly designed one, a hindrance.
  • Offline Mode: Ideally, you want a service that can still function even if your internet connection is interrupted.

 

Which Credit Card Payment App Is Best For My Business?

If you take anything away from this post, it should be that there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to credit card payment apps. That said, one of the options above should work for most businesses. Take stock of your needs, your, budget, your transaction volume, and even how you physically take transactions at POS.

The best credit card payment processing app will be the one that makes your life easier and increases your sales.

Want a deeper look into hardware? Check out The Best Credit Card Machines & Terminals For Small Business.

In Summary: 5 Best Credit Card Payment Apps For Small Business

  1. Square: Pros:
    • User-friendly
    • Huge software ecosystem
    • Excellent mobile hardware
    Cons:
    • Account stability issues
    • Can be expensive for high-volume businesses
  2. SumUp: Pros:
    • Inexpensive hardware
    • Great for low volume and low-ticket transactions
    • Easy to use
    Cons:
    • No eCommerce support
    • Limited features
    • Account stability issues
  3. Shopify Lite: Pros:
    • Easy to scale
    • Huge software ecosystem
    • Free chip reader
    • Supports PayPal payments
    Cons:
    • Account stability issues (with Shopify Payments)
    • Does not include full online store
  4. Intuit GoPayment: Pros:
    • Easy to use
    • Inexpensive hardware
    • Supports PayPal payments
    Cons:
    • Expensive for small ticket transactions
    • Limited features
  5. PayPal Zettle: Pros:
    • Can process international cards
    • In-app invoicing available
    • Ideal for low-volume merchants
    • Processes PayPal and Venmo transactions
    • Easy to use
    Cons:
    • Inconsistent customer support
    • Account stability issues
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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We recommend Square Credit Card Processing to UK businesses 🏆

Square Payments is a secure and reliable credit card processing platform. It's advanced solutions and broad feature-set makes it a great fit for most businesses.

Get Started

No credit card required

We recommend Square Credit Card Processing 🏆

Square Payments is a secure and reliable credit card processing platform. It's advanced solutions and broad feature-set makes it a great fit for most businesses.

Get Started

No credit card required

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.

The vendors that appear on this list were chosen by subject matter experts on the basis of product quality, wide usage and availability, and positive reputation.

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.

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