Clover Go Review
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- Date Established
- Chip card compatible
- Uses a real merchant account
- Allows access to Clover’s back office reporting
- Easy to use
- Works with iOS and Android devices
If you’re looking for a new point of sale system, you’ve undoubtedly come across the Clover suite of products, Developed by First Data — one of the largest payment processors in the world — and sold by big name banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the sales and marketing machine behind the Clover brand is massive. And it’s not all marketing: the brand encompasses sleek, simple, dynamic hardware and software for just about every aspect of every business. POS options include Clover Station for a full-service register, Clover Mini for a smaller or secondary point of sale, and Clover Mobile for businesses on the go, all of which use variations of the proprietary Clover POS hardware and have access to the Clover app marketplace for specialized add-on features.
So with this many versatile options already available under the Clover name, why in the world do we need a Clover Go? Well, it’s a matter of hardware.
What sets Clover Go apart from Clover Mobile and all other Clover systems is the hardware used. To use Clover Go, you simply connect a card reader (á la Square) to your existing phone or tablet via headphone jack or Bluetooth.
The other Clover systems all require you to purchase specialized touchscreen devices with built-in card readers, a stark contrast to the more versatile iPad, iPhone, and Android POS systems. Clover Go is the company’s answer to apps such as Square Register, and a replacement for First Data’s old Pogo payments app.
Clover Go offers two readers, both of which are EMV-compliant — meaning they can read chip cards as well as swipe magstripes. The card readers’ cost varies depending on the reseller. For example, the headphone jack model ranges from $30 to $100, which is more expensive than Square’s reader in many cases. PNC offers the basic reader for $99 (with a $50 rebate to bring the final cost to $49) and additional readers for $75. But Sams Club offers the “All in One” reader, a Bluetooth-equipped model that supports contactless payments, for $75 as well.
With all these comparisons to Square already, you might have guessed that Clover Go is poised as a viable Square competitor in a market that is thinning out to leave only the strongest contenders. So what sets Clover Go apart from Square? First, you use a merchant account to process with Clover Go, unlike Square which acts as a payment service provider (PSP). This means that, ideally, Clover Go will provide better account stability with fewer funding holds and account terminations. It also means you can choose your merchant account provider to some extent, with the caveat that the provider must use First Data as its backend processor.
Very low volume users will likely find that Square is a less expensive option, but businesses looking to save on higher volumes or hoping for better account stability will not be disappointed. While it’s not a replacement for a fully-featured POS app, Clover Go gets the job done and is easy to use. It feels more like a Clover Station add-on than a system unto itself in some respects, but for a user with basic needs, it’s more than adequate. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Clover Go gets a 4-star rating for its overall account stability and for delivering an app with all the features a mobile merchant needs, even if the app may not have every feature they want. As with many mobile processing options, Clover Go isn’t for everyone. Businesses that are interested in a merchant account with a mobile option as an extension of its processing (rather than the core of it) will find it an extremely attractive option. If you are only interested in the mobile capabilities and need a robust setup that can adapt on the go, you may be better served by another mPOS app.
The Clover Go feature set is limited but functional. It’s not appropriate as a standalone register for a retail or foodservice business, but for a merchant on the go, it’s very adequate.
Other businesses with more complex needs might find that a different Clover POS system suits their primary needs, while Clover Go provides supplemental support.
- Quick pay mode (enter dollar amount)
- Basic inventory (does not include item count)
- Customizable tip
- Customizable tax
- Email/SMS receipts
- Integrates with other Clover devices for reporting
- Unlimited users
- Refunds (full and partial)
- App marketplace (very limited availability for Clover Go currently)
The app itself is a little clunky, and I think a business needing to get through transactions quickly and effortlessly might not be completely satisfied. But again, for a user just looking for a basic way to accept cards it performs well enough. If you are used to using the Clover Station, do not expect to have nearly the same number of features or the same level of usability with Clover Go.
Many features need to be enabled from within the browser set up and cannot be modified in the Clover Go app, which will no doubt be a source of frustration for some users — especially those who work primarily with the mobile devices. Even more frustrating, tax rates on items need to be set when you create the item in the system; you can’t override them with another tax option later.
That means you’re going to have to do a lot of prep work to get the Go app functioning to your preferences before you can use it. And even so, you won’t get the same kind of flexibility you can get in PayPal Here, let alone Square.
System Requirements and Compatibility:
The Clover Go app and reader work with most iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Devices must run either iOS 8.2+ (iPhone 4S or higher) or and Android 4.4+. However, many Android users have reported issues with hardware connectivity, so it really depends on the device. Clover does not publish a complete list of “supported” devices, so you will want to check with your merchant account provider whether your device is compatible before signing up for the service or upgrading to a new device.
Rooted and jailbroken devices are NOT supported for security reasons.
The EMV-compliant chip card reader is similar to Square’s basic model, albeit larger and clunkier. It connects via your device’s headphone jack and handles both swiped and dipped transactions, but not contactless NFC transactions.
A micro USB jack allows for charging of the reader’s battery, which lasts 100+ chip card dips or 200+ magstripe swipes, or seven days in standby mode, according to Clover’s own estimates.
In addition, Clover has responded to Apple’s removal of its headphone jack by introducing its “All in One” reader that connects via Bluetooth. It also supports EMV, NFC, and magstripe transactions all in one.
Clover estimates that the battery is good for 160 swipe or chip card transactions, or 130 contactless transactions (Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay).
It’s not the slickest design out there, but it does have Bluetooth and contactless, which are big marks in its favor. Unlike Square, it also supports swipe transactions in the same device, so you won’t have to pull out the headphone jack reader. There’s even a tabletop mount available for it, which is good.
No receipt printer or cash drawer connectivity is supported for Clover Go, so if you want something that can also do register duty, you’ll want to look at another Clover product (such as the Clover Mobile), or consider something such as PayPal Here, Spark Pay or Square.
The cost of the reader (of both readers, actually) depends on the reseller. Some will sell the headphone jack reader for as low as $30, but will have higher processing rates to make up the difference in the long run. Others will charge more for the reader so they don’t lose money upfront (as high as $100), but will give you lower rates so that you save in the long run. You should expect the same kind of variance with the All in One reader, and potentially higher prices to boot, depending on your processor.
If it helps you to get lower rates, I recommend paying a little more for a card reader up front. At least this way you know what you’re paying for, and it only happens once. If you settle for a cheap reader but higher fees, you’ll be paying for it for years to come.
For instance, if you accept a rate that is just 0.5% higher and you process $7,500 per month, you’ll pay about $40 per month extra. In two months, you’ll have paid off the initial investment for the more expensive reader. Since rates do vary, you’ll have to do the math for your own account numbers. Check out this article to learn how to make effective comparisons.
One of the major selling points for the Clover systems is the app marketplace, that can extend the functionality of your POS in all sorts of ways, from adding customer loyalty to CRM and engagement.
There you’ll find dozens of special-feature apps from Clover and third-party developers. Unfortunately, very few apps currently work with Clover Go aside from those that function only on the web.
Something that surprised me was Clover’s support for integrating with other POS systems, including a beta for mobile integrations. Here’s what Clover says about it:
“If your goal is to enable your native mobile application for EMV payments using a streamlined set of functions and in a cost-effective EMV-capable device, then integrate with Clover Go. Clover Go is Clover’s BYOD (bring your-own-device) solution for taking EMV payments. Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get a developer preview of our high-level SDKs that enable payment communication with a light, portable device.”
If this moves beyond the beta test, it would be a game changer for mPOS apps, and it would open up a lot of possibilities for others in the mobile space.
Pricing for Clover Go accounts varies depending on the reseller that sets up your account. Shop around, do your homework. Make certain you are getting the best rate and fairest terms.
We recommend Dharma Merchant Services first and foremost for Clover Go accounts. Dharma specializes in business processing more than $10K per month, so if you process less than that, we recommend you take a look at Payment Depot instead for a more affordable option.
If you decide to go with Dharma for your account, you can get interchange-plus pricing at 0.25% + $0.10 along with a $10 monthly fee.There is an additional $10 fee for using the Clover Go app. But these are the only monthly fees, so $20 in total.
Payment Depot offers a few different plans, all subscription-based — which is just as good as interchange-plus in terms of ensuring you get a fair deal.
Many banks have partnered with First Data to offer merchant solutions, so you’ll find institutions such as Bank of America and PNC hawking the system, too, and often promising next-day deposits into accounts you open with the bank.However, beware of tiered pricing quotes. Your best bet is to look for an interchange-plus or subscription plan.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
This depends on your reseller. Some providers will include a contract with an early termination fee, while others will not. For this reason, it is very important that you review your contract and pricing terms carefully when setting up a Clover Go account. You may even be able to negotiate a waiver for the ETF — just make sure you get everything in writing and signed. Verbal agreements aren’t enforceable. We’ve read far too many complaints from merchants who were told by a sales rep (from many different companies) that their contact had no ETF, only to find out that’s not the case.
It’d be nice to see a bit more consistency here, but you can take heart in knowing that some of these resellers do offer favorable terms for merchants, so long as you’re willing to put in the effort to track them down. Don’t settle for the first quote you get.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
The Clover Go site has some basic sales information but makes few upfront pricing or contract term disclosures. This might in part be because different resellers offer different terms, and to some extent, pricing is customized depending on the business. Still, they could do much better in this department. I also do not like that Clover doesn’t offer a publically accessible demo. I believe that you should be able to try before you buy, which is one of the reasons that pay-as-you-go processors have thrived — there’s no commitment, no investment before you can use the service.
Another source of frustration how fractured the web space is. I know that First Data uses resellers and therefore each reseller wants to put its own spin on the web page, but it makes for a confusing experience. The information available from each reseller is different. For example, First Data’s page for Clover will ask you to submit information about your average ticket size and credit card transaction volume, then give you a quote based on that. It also has an option to apply now. The Clover site will help you find a reseller based on your zip code, or you can request that someone contact you instead.
As far as social media goes, Clover has a Facebook page that’s fairly active and filled with actual useful information, which is always nice to see. I’m also happy to see that there seem to be very few actual complaints about service on the Facebook page, and when they do come up, Clover responds with helpful information. Clover’s Twitter account is also active, but there’s no dedicated Twitter support feed, which is at odds with most other companies — but makes sense given that there’s a very large network of resellers who are the first line of support for their clients.
I will say that Clover seems to be turning out some interesting educational and promotional tools on its blog and it seems to have a solid grasp of what is required to market to small businesses. And that is important — a company that doesn’t understand how to reach small businesses has no business providing services to them. So, despite the fractured web presence, Clover gets a point for understanding digital marketing and the importance of informative resources.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Use of Clover Go will get you access to the standard First Data customer service, which is, unfortunately, notoriously lacking in quality. However, you can at least access it 24/7. Signing up with a good reseller could get you a little bit better support, but when it comes to technical stuff you will likely be transferred to First Data for most issues.
The good news is that Clover has a pretty comprehensive self-service online knowledge base for basic tech support. For the vast majority of questions about features and standard use, this will serve you well. You won’t have to contact anyone to get help just setting up your Clover account, in theory.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
There is no separate BBB complaint page for the Clover software, and the First Data complaint page has too many entries to effectively sort through. It’s unclear how many of these complaints relate to the Clover software. Based on my review of the complaints, it appears that few of them mention Clover in general, and almost none mention Clover Go.
However, we do know that Clover has about 500,000 merchants (it announced fairly recently that it had shipped its 500,000th Clover device), which is a respectable number of clients for a company that only launched in 2014. Again, we don’t have a breakdown of which Clover devices are most popular, but given that Clover Go is the newest addition to the product line, I wouldn’t expect it to be a significant percentage.
For comparison, Square has more than 2 million merchants, and PayPal for Business has more than 8 million. First Data claims 6 million merchants.
A better source of information is mobile app reviews. The Clover Go app has 183 ratings on the Google Play app store, with 3.2 stars out of 5. On the iTunes app store, Clover Go has only 27 ratings on all versions of the app, averaging 3 out of 5 stars. That’s not exactly a strong commendation, but it’s not a death sentence either. Here are the most common complaints we uncovered based on user feedback.
- Card reader will not connect: This is an especially common complaint among Android users. I’ve seen multiple complaints from users who loved the app with their current device, but then switched to another Android and found that the reader was not recognized. This leaves users forced to key-in transaction at a significantly higher fee in most cases. The experience is inconsistent at best, and you should talk to your merchant account provider about device compatibility. And of course, don’t forget that rooted and jailbroken devices won’t work at all.
- Lacking features/poor usability: The app is functional, but very basic when compared to a full-featured POS or even a system like Square, which blurs the line between mobile and full-fledged POS. If you are willing to use the Clover online dashboard to make adjustments, you can access several features that are not available in-app. However, some features that appear via the online dashboard are not compatible with the Clover Go app and will thus not be activated even if you modify the settings online. This is especially true of many inventory management features listed on the dashboard, and the tax rate settings.
- Unstable/glitchy software: App crashes and login problems are common, and unsurprising, complaints. The longer the Clover Go app sticks around, the more stable it will become.
- Poor customer service: Users report long hold times and unresolved issues upon contacting customer support. This echoes the reports we’ve heard regarding other Clover products and First Data generally.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Amid the lackluster reviews and complaints, you’ll still find some positive reviews of Clover Go. This is what happy users praise the most:
- Good online self-support/widely available phone support: Clover’s web support hub is fairly comprehensive. It’s similar to Square’s support, although maybe a little less thorough and sleek. Still, compared to most providers, it’s a selling point. And while many users complain about the phone support, many tend to appreciate the option to get a human on the phone 24/7, in contrast to the limited phone support offered by Square.
- Compatible with other Clover systems: For merchants already using other Clover products, using Clover Go as a simple mobile solution makes a lot of sense. Information syncs up with an existing Clover account, which is a big selling point.
If you’re looking for a simple mobile point of sale system without advanced inventory management or restaurant features, Clover Go is a solid solution. While it lacks some of the features and integrations available from Square, it has the benefit of being powered by a real merchant account, which provides a lot more account stability. This should help to avoid the biggest complaints against Square: funding holds and sudden account terminations. While these are inherent risks when processing credit cards, using Clover can lower the probability of occurrences. It’s not as powerful or as versatile as the other Clover systems and lacks compatibility with most of the marketplace apps. Most features have to be managed from a web browser and cannot be altered within the app itself, which stands as a stark comparison to most other mobile POS apps, which are fully manageable from within the apps themselves.
In terms of cost, micro-merchants will be turned off by the monthly fees that come with opening a merchant account. While Clover does not disclose any monthly fees for Clover Go on its website, account fees will apply. On the other hand, merchants might benefit from being able to choose a reseller willing to set up the account with interchange-plus pricing. This is exactly what Dharma Merchant Services does, which is why we recommend anyone processing over $10K per month sign up with DMS. Those processing less than $10K per month may have better luck signing up with Payment Depot‘s subscription-based pricing.
All things considered, Clover Go is a solid choice for merchants who need a mobile processing option, earning 4 stars for its effort. The Go app is especially advantageous if you plan to use the rest of Clover’s products, given how it integrates for inventory and reporting.
Do you have experience with Clover Go? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!