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The Best Mobile Credit Card Readers For iPhone & iPad Credit Card Processing

Need an iPhone credit card reader that’s friendly to small business? Check out our guide to the best iOS card readers, including pricing and key features.

    Jason Vissers
  • 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.
Credit card reader for iPhone

When seeking the right card reader for iPhone, you need to evaluate the mobile POS features your business will need, not just the card reader itself. You also need to consider credit card processing costs.

In this post, we’ll show you which iPhone and iPad credit card readers — and the mobile processing apps offering them — are best for your small business, whatever your needs are.

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CompanySummaryNext StepsSummary
Square

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  • Card Readers: $0-$49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Card Readers: $0-$49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Monthly Fee: $0

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Clover Go

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  • Card Reader: $49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Monthly Fee: $0-$14.95
  • Card Reader: $49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Monthly Fee: $0-$14.95

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Shopify Lite

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  • Card Reader: $49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.7%
  • Monthly Fee: $9
  • Card Reader: $49
  • Transaction Fee: 2.7%
  • Monthly Fee: $9

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PayPal Zettle

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  • Card Reader: $29
  • Transaction Fee: 2.29% + $0.09
  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Card Reader: $29
  • Transaction Fee: 2.29% + $0.09
  • Monthly Fee: $0

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SumUp

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  • Card Readers: $35-$99
  • Transaction Fee: 2.75%
  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Card Readers: $35-$99
  • Transaction Fee: 2.75%
  • Monthly Fee: $0

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Helcim

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  • Card Reader: $109
  • Transaction Fee: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 to interchange + 0.30% + $0.08
  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Card Reader: $109
  • Transaction Fee: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 to interchange + 0.30% + $0.08
  • Monthly Fee: $0

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

How To Find The Best iPad Or iPhone Credit Card Reader

If you’re looking for the best credit card readers for your iPhone or iPad, you’re in the right place. With businesses adjusting to fit evolving customer preferences in the pandemic era, you may now have to offer curbside pickup or delivery options when that wasn’t your original plan. That means mobile payment apps are becoming crucial for success in many industries.

The best mobile POS providers offer iPhone and iPad credit card readers that accept chip, contactless, and even old-school magstripe payments. (The “contactless” part of that is key, what with Apple’s increasing emphasis on Apple Pay as a quick and safe payment method.) When building our list of the best iPhone credit card apps and processing options, we took into consideration many other factors, including:

  • Compatibility of the credit card reader with the iPhone/iPad
  • Initial and recurring costs
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Hardware options
  • Credit card processing app features
  • Your business type
  • Your sales volume
  • The credit card processor’s reputation

Let’s explore the iPhone and iPad mobile credit card processing platforms that best fit your small business. Bear in mind that the processing rate given for each vendor is for swiped/dipped/tapped transactions — keyed-in transactions will always cost more.

The Best Credit Card Readers For iPhone & iPad

With a credit card reader for your iPhone or iPad, you can accept payments on the go. A great iPhone credit card reader is affordable and accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless payments. It also needs to be paired with a mobile POS app that offers essential business features.

1. Square: Best For Robust POS

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
  • No monthly fees
  • Robust feature set
  • No cancellation fees

Cons

  • Some account stability issues
  • Not for businesses in high-risk industries

Square Features

Square's mobile POS app, called Square Point of Sale, gets a lot of love from mobile merchants for its exceptionally robust and varied feature set while offering two different card readers.

  • The Square Point of Sale app offers reporting, customer engagement tools, inventory and team management, invoicing, gift cards, and much more — it’s one of the best mPOS feature sets around.
  • The free Square Reader for magstripe comes in two versions: one with a headset jack for older iPhones and one with a Lightning connector for newer iPhones. It just takes swiped transactions, so it’s only appropriate for light/occasional sales due to the inferior security of magstripe tech.
  • The Square Reader for contactless and chip accepts chip cards, NFC (contactless) cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. It doesn’t accept magstripe payments, but you can use the free reader for those if necessary.

Hardware Cost

  • Square Reader For Magstripe: $0
  • Square Reader For Contactless & Chip: $49

Square Pricing

  • Processing Fees: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $0

Where Square Really Shines

With its impressive and extensive POS features, Square is ideal for businesses processing under $5,000/month and those that can’t get a traditional merchant account due to a lack of business history.

Its two mobile card readers are well-suited to smaller on-the-go merchants, but for more hardware options, read our guide to Square POS hardware card readers to learn about Square’s terminal and register bundles.

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2. Clover Go: Best For Merchant Account Options

Clover Go



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Pros

  • Free mobile processing app
  • Good web dashboard
  • Numerous features
  • Inexpensive card reader

Cons

  • Many features only available with the Essentials plan
  • Not all businesses will qualify

Clover Go Features

Unlike many of the providers listed here, when you sign up with Clover Go, you get a card reader and mobile POS backed by a full merchant account, which gives you more account stability than a third-party processor. Let’s go through what else you’ll get with Clover Go:

  • The Clover Go mobile app gives you sales tracking, paperless receipts, an offline mode, order management, and an outstanding inventory mode for an mPOS app. However, these features (along with other robust abilities) are reserved for paid plan subscribers.
  • The Clover Go card reader is an ideal all-in-one mobile card reader that accepts swiped/dipped/tapped credit and debit card transactions, along with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Hardware Cost

The Clover Go card reader costs $49.

Clover Go Pricing

  • Processing Fees: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $0 (Payments plan) or $14.95/month (Essentials plan)

Where Clover Go Really Shines

As Clover Go is backed by a merchant account, it’s great for mobile sellers with irregular processing volume (merchants who sell at conventions and the like). (These merchants can sometimes run afoul of the hair-trigger flagging systems of third-party processors such as Square and PayPal.)

Note that many resellers offer Clover Go. Pricing, features, and support will vary with each reseller. All information herein is based on the Clover Go mPOS package sold directly at Clover.com.

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3. Shopify Lite: Best For Multichannel Selling

Shopify Lite



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Pros

  • Good pricing for small-ticket sellers
  • Month-to-month pricing
  • Suitable for low-volume businesses
  • Supports PayPal payments

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Limited offline mode

Shopify Lite Features

Shopify is mainly known for its eCommerce, but if you don’t need a full eCommerce website and are instead focused on mobile in-person sales (and maybe some online sales on social media as well), we recommend Shopify Lite. Shopify Lite gives you the basic mPOS features you need at a much more affordable price than Shopify’s online store plans.

  • The Shopify POS app offered with the Lite plan gives you print and email receipts, automatic tax calculation based on location, team management, and basic reporting, along with buy buttons you can use to sell items from your blog or social media profiles.
  • For mobile in-person sales, Shopify offers the Bluetooth-enabled Chipper 2X BT Reader, which accepts swiped/dipped/tapped card payments, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.

Hardware Cost

The Chipper 2X BT reader costs $49.

Shopify Lite Pricing

  • Processing Fees: 2.7% per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $9/month (full-featured Shopify plans, required to use a cash drawer, barcode scanner, and/or receipt printer, start at $29/month)

Where Shopify Lite Really Shines

For merchants with small average tickets, the 2.7% in-person processing rate is actually great because there’s no $0.10 fixed fee. With the 2.6% + $0.10 rate offered by Square/Clover Go/etc., that extra ten cents adds up when you’re processing lots of small transactions.

Get Started With Shopify Lite

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4. PayPal Zettle: Best For Low-Volume & New Sellers

PayPal Zettle



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Pros

  • Low transaction fees
  • Inexpensive Zettle card reader
  • Card reader has a PIN pad & display
  • In-app invoicing & other features

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • No offline mode

PayPal Zettle Features

PayPal Zettle, PayPal’s mobile processing app, gives you a capable mPOS, an exceptional mobile card reader, and access to PayPal’s comprehensive ecosystem of merchant tools.

  • The PayPal Zettle app supports QR code payments and offers an item library, reports, custom gift cards, refunds (partial and whole), discounts, and support for a full register setup.
  • The Zettle Reader takes chip and NFC card transactions and supports PIN transactions (the most secure way to process debit charges), as the reader has a PIN pad and display screen like the advanced card readers found in Europe. It also takes Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Hardware Cost

The Zettle Reader costs $29 for the first reader and $79 for all additional readers.

PayPal Zettle Pricing

  • Processing Fees: 2.29% + $0.09 per transaction
  • Monthly Fee: $0

Where PayPal Zettle Really Shines

PayPal’s 2021 pricing changes were mostly bad for eCommerce merchants, but for in-person sales, PayPal now offers one of the lowest flat rates around. Combine that with a PIN-enabled iPhone card reader that sells for $20 less than the PIN-less $49 readers offered by some competitors and a solid mPOS app, and you’ve got a great package for smaller sellers who don’t want to pay too much, as well as new sellers needing an easy-to-use payments system.

Get Started With PayPal Zettle

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5. SumUp: Best Affordable 3-In-1 Reader

SumUp



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Pros

  • Great card readers
  • No monthly fees
  • Flat-rate pricing with no fixed $0.10 fee
  • Free virtual terminal for qualifying businesses

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • No discounting feature

SumUp Features

SumUp serves up a solid mPOS system and two unique card readers for mobile sales.

  • The SumUp app offers an item library, tipping, basic analytics, multiple tax rates, email/text receipts, receipt printer connectivity, and QR code support — it’s not on par with Square’s mPOS, but it’ll do for many merchants.
  • The SumUp Plus card reader is akin to the PayPal Zettle in that it accepts EMV/chip and contactless card transactions while providing a PIN pad for additional debit transaction security. It also takes Apple Pay, Google Pay, and (unlike the Zettle) magstripe transactions, making it a great value for the price.
  • The SumUp Solo is a unique standalone terminal with a touch screen and a built-in SIM card with free unlimited mobile data. It takes EMV and NFC payments (not magstripe) along with Google Pay and Apple Pay, offers smart tipping, lets you access reports, and can send digital receipts right from the screen.

Hardware Cost

  • SumUp Plus Card Reader: $35
  • SumUp Solo Card Reader: $99

SumUp Pricing

  • Processing Fees: 2.75% per transaction
  • Monthly Fee: $0

Where SumUp Really Shines

SumUp’s 2.75% transaction cost lacks a $0.10 fixed fee, giving a boost to sellers with small average tickets. The card readers are technologically advanced and reasonably priced, while the mPOS features are solid enough if you don’t need the advanced functionality Square provides.

Get Started With SumUp

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6. Helcim: Best For High-Volume Sales

Helcim



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Pros

  • Great POS features
  • Excellent card reader
  • Interchange-plus pricing benefits larger merchants
  • Great public reputation

Cons

  • Expensive card reader
  • Not all businesses will qualify

Helcim Features

Helcim is a merchant account provider (like Clover Go’s parent company) that offers an advanced chip + contactless + PIN card reader, full POS capabilities, and, uniquely among the providers listed here, interchange-plus pricing, which works to the benefit of most merchants.

  • Helcim’s mobile POS features include email receipts, inventory and customer tracking, analytics, reporting, automatic tax calculation, unlimited invoice creation, and more. It’s a stellar feature lineup.
  • The Helcim Card Reader has a PIN pad and display, it accepts chip + NFC (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) + PIN payments, and it works with iPhones, iPads, and PC and Mac computers.

Hardware Cost

The Helcim Card Reader costs $109.

Helcim Pricing

  • Processing Fees: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 to interchange + 0.30% + $0.08, depending on your processing volume (process more, pay less)
  • Monthly Fee: $0

Where Helcim Really Shines

While interchange-plus pricing isn’t as easy to understand as the flat-rate pricing offered by the other companies listed here, most merchants will save money with Helcim over the likes of PayPal and Square. Combine this with an incredible array of POS features and a full merchant account, and you have an ideal mobile selling solution for higher-volume merchants.

Smaller merchants, however, may not need all the advanced POS functionality and may find the card reader expensive. Merchants with little to no processing history may not qualify for a merchant account anyway.

Get Started With Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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Can You Take Credit Card Payments Without An iPhone Card Swiper?

The short answer to this question is that you absolutely can take credit card payments without a mobile card reader. QR code payments — payments in which the customer scans a funky square barcode with their iPhone or Android cameras and then completes the transaction on their own device — are becoming increasingly common during the COVID era and are now widely understood by consumers.

Likewise, many processors now support payment links. With payment links, you directly invoice a customer by sending them a text or email with a URL or QR code that launches the transaction process. It’s great for freelancers, professional service workers, and others who need an easy way to bill clients and can even be used by occasional in-person vendors.

Perhaps the biggest competition facing the iPhone credit card reader is coming from the iPhone itself. Unveiled just this year, Apple’s Tap To Pay technology (not to be confused with Apple Pay) allows merchants to accept NFC payments from credit cards and digital wallets using just their iPhones (XS or newer) and an iOS partner app — no card reader necessary. As I type this, Stripe and Adyen have already partnered with Apple to offer Tap To Pay in the US, and Square will start offering Tap To Pay later this year.

However, considering how new this technology is and the likelihood that a substantial portion of your customer base will be unable or unwilling to use these payment methods, they are best offered in conjunction with an actual physical credit card reader, not as a replacement for such readers. Of course, how long this remains true is anybody’s guess, what with NFC-enabled credit cards becoming ubiquitous.

Which Credit Card Reader For iPhone/iPad Is Best For You?

When looking for a card reader for iPhone, your research into mobile credit card processing should go beyond just the card readers, just as our research did for this article. Your business size, current business model, feature needs, growth plans, and even your aesthetic preferences (and/or the preferences of your customers) should be a part of your overall decision-making process.

Each credit card reader for iPhone we’ve shared has its pros and cons, but there’s likely one or two that hit your sweet spot in terms of pricing and features. There’s no one-size-fits-all choice, but we hope this list can help you get a picture of the strongest and most reputable options.

For those looking for the lowest-cost payment options possible, check out the following resources!

Common Questions About iPhone & iPad Card Readers

Which iPhone credit card reader is good for small business?

Square offers the best all-around mobile card readers for iPhones. In addition to a free basic magstripe reader, merchants can also opt for the Contactless & Chip reader for EMV and tap-to-pay features.

Which is the best contactless credit card reader for iPad?

Square’s Contactless & Chip card reader is the best all-around mobile reader for nearly any situation. It pairs with iPads via Bluetooth and can accept contactless and chip card payments.

How much is a card reader for iPhone?

A card reader for iPhone can cost anywhere between $0 (for Square’s basic magstripe reader with a Lightning connector) and $109 for a contactless and chip-enabled Bluetooth reader from a merchant services provider, such as Helcim.

Can I use my iPhone as a POS?

If you download an app such as Square POS or Shopify, you can turn your iPhone into a mobile POS system. These credit card processing apps allow you to track sales, accept payments, and even send invoices.

In Summary: The Best Credit Card Readers For iPhone & iPad

  1. Square:
    • Card Readers: $0-$49
    • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
    • Monthly Fee: $0
  2. Clover Go:
    • Card Reader: $49
    • Transaction Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
    • Monthly Fee: $0-$14.95
  3. Shopify Lite:
    • Card Reader: $49
    • Transaction Fee: 2.7%
    • Monthly Fee: $9
  4. PayPal Zettle:
    • Card Reader: $29
    • Transaction Fee: 2.29% + $0.09
    • Monthly Fee: $0
  5. SumUp:
    • Card Readers: $35-$99
    • Transaction Fee: 2.75%
    • Monthly Fee: $0
  6. Helcim:
    • Card Reader: $109
    • Transaction Fee: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 to interchange + 0.30% + $0.08
    • Monthly Fee: $0
Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Jason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
Jason Vissers
View Jason Vissers'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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