Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Date Established
- Troy, MI
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- Inexpensive chip card hardware
- Numerous features
- Advanced inventory management
- Free sub-user accounts
- Sudden account terminations
- Funding holds common
- Poor customer support
- Buggy app
- Limited device compatibility
PayAnywhere is facing a tough market, as mobile processing is getting awfully competitive these days. If a company doesn’t offer a truly unique product or service, chances are it’s just not going to cut it. More and more, merchants are looking for integrated solutions — ones that can harness the best of all the options and provide a seamless experience. Your customer service needs to be spot on too.
PayAnywhere was established in 2010 by credit card processing company North American Bancard. In the beginning, PA just felt like a knockoff of Square but without the refined and sleek appeal. PayAnywhere has historically suffered from the same shortcomings as Square, namely lackluster customer support and poor account stability, with long-term holds happening quite often.
Back in January 2017, the company announced a “new” PayAnywhere, with a new focus on “the commerce that connects us.” It came with a brand new version of the app, with new features and a snazzy looking new logo. It’s more than just a token baby step forward, but is it enough to keep PA competitive?
PayAnywhere is trying to keep up. Really, it is. While I almost want to say it’s doing an adequate job in that department, there are some noteworthy issues we’re not happy about. Gimmicky sales offers, undisclosed fees, a lack of transparency, and poor customer service are easy ways to a poor rating, and PayAnywhere continues to flirt with all of these.
I’m also not at all impressed by PayAnywhere’s communication skills as far as dealing with merchants is concerned (read the full review for more info). It’s pretty clear that when people have problems with the service, they’re likely going to have trouble getting a resolution. I find the contract to be intentionally complicated and convoluted, which stands in contrast to the simplicity of most other pay-as-you-go processors. Not only that, but the pricing scheme is full of caveats.
Some merchants may find a good deal with this service, but many others will not. My advice to you is to be careful and make sure that this service will work for your processing needs, especially if you are interested in the so-called “free” tablet. Make sure you read and understand every bit of your contract.
PayAnywhere continues to hold steady at 3.5 stars out of 5 stars, exactly where it was last time we reviewed the service. The features are right; there’s no question there. But the reliability of the service is doubtful. Customer support appears to be equally dubious. And if you’re interested in that storefront plan, I promise you can find a better deal elsewhere. It might not be a free tablet, but it won’t include an $80 monthly penalty if you fall below the minimum.
I really do think PayAnywhere is capable of redemption. I dare even say it’s trying for redemption. Overall complaint volume is down, but I still see the same complaints, and they’re troubling to me. Maybe next time we take a look at PayAnywhere it will have fixed some of the issues, and it might merit a bump in ratings.
Check out our full PayAnywhere review below for a complete analysis! Or see how PayAnywhere stacks up against its competitors with our mobile payments comparison chart. Good luck!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
PayAnywhere offers two plans: Storefront and Mobile. But apart from pricing and hardware, there appears to be no difference as far as features or capabilities.
- Storefront: If you’re looking for a low-budget countertop setup, Storefront is PayAnywhere’s tablet-based POS. For a $12.95 monthly fee, you get a discount over standard Mobile plan rates. You also get an EMV-enabled tablet stand and a free Android tablet. The tablet is technically a “rental,” so you’re responsible for any damages, but otherwise there’s no charge. However, there’s a $5,000 monthly minimum for the Storefront plan, and the fee if you don’t meet the minimum is pretty steep — $79 each month.
- Mobile: If you don’t need a countertop register system, or your monthly volume is below $5,000, you can skip the Storefront option use PayAnywhere on your phone or tablet instead. Note that the terms and pricing are different with the mobile option. For one, there’s no monthly volume requirement, and you pay rates more on par with other mobile services.
We’ll get into pricing and hardware in a moment, but I want to call out two features of PayAnywhere that aren’t specifically related to the app:
- Next-day funding: In theory, you should have access to your funds within 24 hours, but I’ve seen reports of deposit delays. Combined with the holds issue, take this with a grain of salt.
- In-app and online reporting: This allows you to track your sales and learn more about the spending habits of your customers. With the branding refresh, PayAnywhere has upped its game and expanded its reporting capabilities. I am not super wowed by the in-app reporting functions, but this is what dashboards are for, right?
PayAnywhere App Features
- Accept credit and cash transactions
- Split tender
- Item library
- Custom discounts, tips
- Disable signature for transactions less than $25
- Customer database
- Email and print receipts
- Unlimited sub-users
- Include tax by location: I honestly wish more apps would include this feature, but I don’t have a good frame of reference for how reliable it is. Still, looking up tax rates manually can be a pain, as is remembering to update them as you move around.
- QuickBooks Online integration: I’m surprised to see this, but also glad about it. Easy bookkeeping is a perk.
- Pre-Auth: This isn’t something I see often. PayPal offers it, as does Spark Pay. With a pre-auth (or pre-authorization), you can hold funds on a customer’s card, but not charge them until later. This is good for appointment booking as well as an inn or bed and breakfast. PayAnywhere’s pre-auth lasts for seven days.
Something else worth noting in PayAnywhere is its Test Drive mode. You don’t need to create an account to explore the app and see how it works. When you download it onto your phone or tablet and open up the app, you’ll see the welcome screen. Look near the bottom to find the “Test Drive” button.
Once you enter this demo mode, you can explore the app as if you had an account (minus actually processing payments). This is a rarely seen feature, and I like it. (I’m a reviewer. I have a lot of accounts to keep track of, OK?) However, Square, SumUp, PayPal Here and others often allow you to signup with no commitment so you can essentially test those apps for free too.
What’s New in PayAnywhere
Remember we said that PayAnywhere did a branding refresh that includes a brand new app. I’m honestly impressed with the new features. It looks like PayAnywhere is gunning for Square with some of these features.
- Multiple roles for sub-users: PayAnywhere doesn’t just allow sub-user accounts. Now you can designate people as a manager, admin, or even reporter if you just need someone to crunch the data for you.
- Item scanning: PA’s new scanning feature allows you to add items to the customer’s cart, items to the item library, and even barcodes to existing items. What impresses me most here is that you can get a Bluetooth scanner or use your phone/tablet’s camera.
- Bulk import/export: Add products to your library all at once instead of one by one. This is a useful feature considering the other addition to PayAnywhere: item inventory counts.
- Inventory counts: Now you can keep track of how many of each item you have in stock, as PayAnywhere will deduct every sale from inventory automatically. The inventory system doesn’t appear to be super complex, but the count option is more than many other providers offer.
- Add social media accounts to receipts: Connect Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yelp to PayAnywhere.
- Customer feedback: In addition to the customer database PayAnywhere offers, the newly redesigned receipts prompt customers to rate their visit.
- BCCs on email receipts: You have the option to enable BCC emails to yourself (or a designated email address) on all receipts.
I like these features. I really do. I dare even say that strictly in terms of features, PayAnywhere is in the upper echelons of mPOS systems. It’s not going to unseat Square just yet (or ever, given how quickly Square rolls out new features). However, you won’t find many systems more advanced than this.
PayAnywhere Hardware & Compatible Devices
PayAnywhere doesn’t have a BYOD (bring your own device) option for Storefront. You get their tablet (an Android device) plus the stand, and that’s that. The tablet stand has a built-in reader that supports magstripe and EMV, but not contactless payments. However, it looks like you can add a secondary reader, a device called the WisePad2, which connects via Bluetooth and supports swipe, EMV, and NFC/contactless payments. No word on what it costs, though I’d expect upwards of $100. It is not compatible with the mobile plan.
On the mobile side of things, I’m not fond of how small PayAnywhere’s list of supported devices is. It’s clear PA favors Apple. On the Android side of things, your options are pretty much a Samsung Galaxy or another flagship model. Only a couple of Android tablets are compatible beyond PayAnywhere’s custom build, which is a little disappointing.
I also don’t like that both of the mobile readers PayAnywhere offers connect via the headphone jack.There’s a free two-in-one EMV reader when you sign up, which is a nice touch. No one else is offering a free EMV reader at this point. There’s also a three-in-one reader with contactless support. It’s only $40, which is the lowest cost I’ve seen for an NFC-capable reader. However, I think Bluetooth is the way of the future, especially for all-in-one devices. Neither of PayAnywhere’s readers has that technology. So while the price is right, I think the hardware designs could be a little better.
As far as compatible equipment goes, PA only officially supports Star Bluetooth receipt printers. However, many AirPrint-enabled receipt printers will work with iOS devices. Android users may have success with Cloud Print receipt printers. Just don’t expect any tech support from PA. The knowledgebase doesn’t make this information clear, either. I had to contact customer support to clarify.
You can rent a receipt printer and cash drawer for $13.95/month or just a Bluetooth printer for $8.95/month. Not a bad solution for the short term, but long-term you’ll probably pay more than you have to. Buying is going to be less expensive after a year or two.
PayAnywhere says on the website a “select” number of cash drawers work with the setup, but in typical fashion, doesn’t tell you which ones! The customer support rep told me that it’s any cash drawer that supports a data cable connection, though.
Fees & Rates
PayAnywhere offers merchants a choice of two service plans: the Storefront plan, which gives you a register-like setup and lower rates as a trade-off for paying a monthly fee, and the Mobile plan, which gives you just the reader.
Storefront Plan: $5,000+ per month (monthly fee, includes tablet and stand rental)
- Monthly fee: $12.95
- Swiped: 1.69%
- Business/Rewards: 2.69%
- Keyed: 3.69% + $0.19
Then, if you don’t read the fine print, you might miss this fee:
- Minimum Volume Fee: $79/month
This is a substantial penalty. If you don’t process at least $5,000 in card transactions every month, you will be charged this fee on top of your normal fees. (At 1.69% per swipe, it’s more than $4,500 in total transactions.)
It looks like PayAnywhere has gotten better about disclosing it at least. Still, I find this frustrating when you look at Spark Pay or Intuit GoPayment, both of which offer free and paid plans but don’t assess a monthly minimum for them.
And of course, if you opt for the Storefront plan and want that register setup, you’re still going to have to buy the cash drawer and receipt printer.
Mobile Plan (pay-as-you-go, includes card reader)
- Swiped: 2.69%
- Keyed: 3.49% + $0.19
This is not an awful plan for low-volume merchants. Pricing is on par with Square (2.75%) and PayPal Here (2.7%), and the costs for keyed transactions is marginally lower than either. The feature set is all around solid.
You’ll also see that PayAnywhere promises “no setup, monthly or hidden fees” for its mobile plan. However, I’m a little bit wary of this given PayAnywhere’s history and the way it handles contract information on its site. (We’ll get to that in the Sales and Advertising Transparency section.)
It’s worth mentioning that PayAnywhere does offer customized rates for high-volume businesses. You’ll have to negotiate to get those rates, as they seem to be subjective based on your total volume.
- Chargeback fee: $25 every time a customer charges back a transaction.
- Inactivity fee: This has been around since December 2015, and yet I’m still getting reports from surprised merchants. If you don’t process payments with your PayAnywhere Mobile account for more than a year, you’ll be charged $3.99 monthly until you process a payment. This has a lot of people upset because, well, many of them randomly had money taken from their accounts by PayAnywhere when they haven’t used the service in years, and some of them only used it once or twice. PayAnywhere claims it sent notices out, but a lot of customers (or former customers) seem to have been unaware of the development. Frankly, it feels like a money grab to me, or an attempt to get rid of inactive merchants without being the one to close their accounts.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
I’ve always been a bit wary of PayAnywhere because the company has previously advertised big bonuses for third-party sales reps who sign merchants up for the Storefront plan. That language is gone from the site in question, but it appears the relationship between PA and the sales organization Global is still in place. That continues to make me cautious. Third-party sales reps tend to over-promise and under-deliver, so merchants end up with the short end of the stick.
As far as sales gimmicks go, when you buy the 3-in-1 reader, PayAnywhere promises it will let you process your first $5,000 in contactless transactions completely free. Here’s the exact wording:
Get $5,000 Free in Apple Pay™ and other contactless transactions. A $135 value!
Note the lack of asterisk. Note the lack of fine print. I’m very suspicious of this because the previous sales gimmick was only available to brand-new merchants who bought the reader from the Apple store. AND the offer only applied to Apple Pay transactions within the first six months. The takeaway? There’s always fine print. Here, I am just not sure what it is. Always remember: Nothing is free when it comes to payment processing.
PayAnywhere does have a blog, and it is fairly active. There’s an interesting mix of content, and it’s pretty decent quality. I like that its content isn’t focused exclusively on why you should sign up with PayAnywhere. It’s more focused on how to help your business grow in many different areas.
There’s also a Facebook page and a Twitter account (@PayAnywhere), but neither is particularly engaging. The profiles are definitely active, but fans are barely interacting with either account. There’s no Twitter support channel, either. I find this a bit odd, but then again PayAnywhere isn’t nearly the size of, say, Square. Plus, PayAnywhere offers alternative ways to get in touch.
There’s also a YouTube channel with some videos, but posting is sporadic at best. However, there are a couple of videos showcasing the new features, which is nice.
Apart from my general concern about their sales reps, my other issue is with PayAnywhere and their contract. If you click on the “Legal” link in the footer, you’ll be taken to a copy of their agreement. And if you look closely, you’ll see a secondary “Merchant Processing Agreement” to supplement it. I assume that one is for the Storefront plan and the merchant processing agreement is for the Mobile plan. But, if you dig, you’ll find a third user agreement in the FAQ. The first two run counter to the terms that PA offers, including references to a 3-year agreement, early termination fee, and other costs. The third doesn’t mention them at all.
The agreements on the Legal page could be out of date (in which case: REALLY?), or it could just be that PayAnywhere is trying to confuse and mislead you. For most mPOS apps and mobile processors, the agreements are LOT easier to navigate than this.
My advice to you is this: READ YOUR CONTRACT. Yes, that’s in all caps this time. We can’t reliably tell you what’s true in this circumstance, and plenty of merchants feel they’ve been scammed by PA. So read every bit of the contract. Make a note of every fee. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. If they can’t explain it, walk away. If someone promises to waive a fee, get it in writing. We have some complaints about major billing issues and fees, and verbal agreements count for nothing in this business. It’s so important that know what you are signing.
Customer Service & Technical Support
PayAnywhere has eliminated its 24/7 phone support, now operating the line Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. However, judging from the negative reviews, the quality of that support is debatable. If you hate the phone but need to get ahold of someone right away, try the live chat feature.
In addition to phone and chat support, PayAnywhere also offers:
- Email support: If you’re not having any luck via phone or live chat, try emailing the company.
- Knowledgebase: There’s a help center on the PayAnywhere website that you can also access through the mobile app. It’s nowhere near as in-depth as the knowledgebase offered by Square and many others I’ve seen, but it is usable. I found a couple of contradictions, and there’s no information about EMV or some of the other topics I wanted to know about, but it did walk me through the basics.
- YouTube videos: The PA YouTube page has a bunch of YouTube tutorials that can come in handy if you need a visual walkthrough, but don’t expect frequent updates.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
PayAnywhere has a separate BBB profile from North American Bancard, its parent company. PA has an A+ rating with 146 complaints (down just slightly from 160) in the past three years. Of them, 32 occurred in the last year (down from 50). The complaint volume is down overall, and down in the past 12 months too. Unfortunately, no details are available for any of these complaints. That’s problematic because only a small portion of these complaints have actually been resolved — 17, in fact. For the rest, either PA was unable to resolve the issue, or the customer never gave an indication they were happy with the agreement. Given the chatter from other sources, I’m more inclined to think that the issue was unresolved. I’m glad to see the volume dropping, but there’s another aspect of complaints to consider: content.
I read quite a few complaints about PayAnywhere over the course of this review. That includes pulling data from several sources, including iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon reviews, and other places where user reviews have been collected. I even looked at the BBB consumer reviews. Overall, I see the same sort of complaints that I’ve seen previously about PayAnywhere:
- Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts: PA seems to be pretty trigger-happy when it comes to suspicion of fraud, which is very common for this type of processor. That said, I have noticed more complaints about sudden holds and freezes — and even 100% reserve funds — than I have about account terminations. That stands in contrast to other mPOS options like Square, which will often just close your account instead.
- Delayed fund transfers: There were a bunch of complaints from unhappy business owners claiming that their funds took too long to reach their bank accounts (usually as a result of a sudden hold). This is something to be wary of, especially if you think that your business falls into the high-risk category. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your e-cigarettes business won’t have any problems with using PayAnywhere. It will, and so will any other sort of high-risk business.
This is what PayAnywhere has to say in the Agreement:
Suspension/Reserve/Recovery/Pooling of Funds: PA may temporarily suspend or delay payments to you or withhold or reserve your funds in order to secure your performance of your obligations to PA. This action may arise for any reason, including the occurrence or suspected occurrence of Transaction chargebacks or refunds, for which you are responsible. A chargeback will occur if the Transaction (a) is disputed, (b) is reversed for any reason, (c) was not authorized or PA has any reason to believe that the Transaction was not authorized, or (d) is allegedly unlawful, suspicious, or in violation of this Agreement. The amounts suspended, delayed or reserved shall be initially determined, and may be increased or decreased, in PA’s reasonable discretion as necessary to cover potential financial exposure on the part of PA. You grant PA a security interest in and lien on any and all funds held in any such reserve, and also authorize PA to make any withdrawals or debits from such reserve, without prior notice to you, to collect amounts that you owe PA. This security interest survives for as long as PA holds your funds in reserve.
- Poor customer service: Another common complaint was in regards to PayAnywhere’s customer service. More specifically, the issue is phone support. There were just too many complaints for me to ignore this one. Lack of callbacks, lack of reps who can solve the issue, reps putting customers on hold and going to lunch, and no one knowing who to pass off issues to are some of the complaints I’ve heard.
Less-frequent complaints include:
- Hidden fees: If you read the “Fees and Rates” section above, you’ll know why there were a few complaints about this. Even two years after implementing an inactivity fee, people who signed up with the company are still just now discovering the charges, and have no trace of the email supposedly alerting them to the issue.
- Unclear, subjective limits on processing: PayAnywhere at least acknowledges that it puts limits on what you can process per transaction and per month. Sometimes its staff will tell you what those limits are. Other times, it appears that the rep who sets up the account will promise merchants whatever limits they need. PayAnywhere disagrees and sets them much lower. (This is a common problem when you have an independent sales force.) That can be a problem that ultimately leads to long holds or worse, account terminations. I strongly recommend you get everything in writing. The good news is you can appeal the decision and request an increased limit… but it’s not guaranteed.
- Charges on transactions never completed: This also doesn’t come up as frequently as mentions of poor customer service, but enough to merit mentioning. Sometimes when funds get stuck in a hold and PA won’t release them, it’ll still charge merchants for those fees. Sometimes they’ll still charge you to refund customers after a hold is placed, even though you’ve never seen any of that money. I really, really don’t like this, and for obvious reasons, neither do merchants.
- Owed fees after closing accounts: This is a new complaint and one that is mind-boggling to me because PayAnywhere is essentially a month-to-month processor. It deducts its processing fees before sending funds to your account. Yet I am seeing complaints of PayAnywhere claiming merchants owe them hundreds to over a thousand dollars after closing their accounts.
- Glitches: There isn’t anything specific that I can point to here because the glitches are so varied. Merchants seem to feel that the card readers don’t work well, the app doesn’t sync well, or transactions will be processed multiple times.
Like I said, content matters as much as the number of complaints and the content here is worrisome. I don’t expect any processor to be perfect, but the quality of a service is important. This kind of stuff tends to be more of a red flag than general complaints that can’t be replicated or just a general feeling of “meh.”
Merchants seem to either love or hate PayAnywhere. I don’t see many in-between reviews. It seems like when it works well, it works well. When it doesn’t, it’s a disaster for merchants. Still, I’m curious to see how the content of complaints changes in the future. It could be a sign that PayAnywhere is improving.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Here are the most common positive reviews that I read about PayAnywhere:
- Easy to use: There were plenty of comments about this one. The app has a 3.8-star rating in Google Play (more than 3,300 reviews) and a 3.5-star rating for the current version in iTunes (7 reviews; 4 stars with over 3,100 reviews for all versions).
- Nice features: A lot of people like the inventory itemization feature. I can see an influx of praises about the new features possibly coming in the future, given everything that PayAnywhere has added.
That’s about it. There wasn’t anything else that really blew people away about PayAnywhere. As far as offerings go, it’s a decent mobile payment option with good features, end of story. The issues lie in service and support and the user experience, which is where a lot of companies can go wrong. However, we have seen some people praise the customer service; they’re generally long-term customers.
I want to like PayAnywhere. The new app shows a lot of promise as far as features go. The hardware could use a little work (especially on the mobile side), and I’m not thrilled about the accounts of customer service and long holds for funds. The complaint volume is down overall, but I’m not quite ready to believe PA has turned over a new leaf.
As far as mobile POS systems go, there are better options if you need a low-volume, pay-as-you-go app. But you’re better off with the Mobile plan than the Storefront plan. For one, the tiered pricing plan for Storefront means you might not actually save all that much if you handle a lot of rewards cards and commercial cards. Secondly, if you dip below $5,000 per month, you’re going to be hit with a hefty penalty. If you are consistently above that amount, you can find more stable processing at a good rate with a merchant account.
So for now, PayAnywhere holds steady at 3.5 of 5 stars, with a general hope that it will fix some of the service issues. Good or bad, if you have experience with PayAnywhere, please leave us a comment with your thoughts. (Be sure to check our content guidelines before you post!)
Still hunting for a mobile processing option? You can check out the rest of our favorite mPOS solutions here. Good luck in your search!
To learn more about how we score our reviews, see our Mobile Credit Card Processing Rating Criteria.