Payment Depot Mobile (SwipeSimple) Review
Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Phone Number
- Works on iOS and Android
- Free chip card reader
- Competitive pricing
- Good customer support
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
There’s an art to writing a review — even for something as technical, and occasionally boring — as mobile payment processing. And the art is storytelling. After 4+ years of writing mobile reviews, though, you start to worry that you’ll run out of original stories to tell and that every review will start to sound the same — bland, boring, and full of the same facts. And that’s the challenge I expected to face in reviewing Payment Depot Mobile: How do I go about making this review interesting, compelling, and different from the ones that have come before, especially if the app is just like every other mobile POS out there?
In reality, this wasn’t the challenge I encountered at all, which was a pleasant surprise. Rather than running into a run-of-the-mill product, I found something that’s surprisingly powerful and it fills a unique niche in the mobile space.
Payment Depot Mobile is, as its name suggested, powered by Payment Depot (read our full review), a membership-based merchant account provider that we’ve rated highly for many reasons: competitive and transparent pricing, great customer support, and month-to-month processing agreements (just for starters). This mobile solution enters into somewhat new territory because of its pricing model (we’ll talk about that). The app that PD offers its merchant is called SwipeSimple, and it was developed by a company called CardFlight. Payment Depot is actually just one of many companies offering SwipeSimple as its mobile processing option, similar to how ROAMpay licenses its software to merchant services providers (such as Payline Data).
I genuinely like the SwipeSimple app, and I think if I were reviewing it as a solo solution it would earn a pretty solid rating. But because Cardflight uses a network of resellers, the contract terms and processing rates available to merchants will vary. The technical information in this review — about the app features and hardware — should generally apply to SwipeSimple regardless of payment processor. Information about rates and fees, contracts, customer service and technical support all pertain to Payment Depot exclusively.
Payment Depot’s mobile plan has a lot going for it. I like the software. PD offers good customer service and each merchant gets their own merchant account, which means account stability. Throw in a special exclusive rate for Merchant Maverick readers and suddenly you have a very competitive payment processing option, even for low-volume merchants.
For all these reasons, I am happy to award Payment Depot Mobile a perfect 5-star rating. Read on for a breakdown of the mobile POS app (SwipeSimple) as well as Payment Depot’s pricing plans, customer support, and more.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
SwipeSimple isn’t the kind of all-in-one platform you get from Square or even PayPal. If you want centralized control of in-person and online sales, this isn’t the app for you. But if you want a mid-range mobile POS option, SwipeSimple (and Payment Depot) deliver in surprising — but genuinely pleasant — ways.
First, SwipeSimple actually has a demo mode so you can test out the app even before you create an account. Freely available demo modes are not exactly common, and I genuinely get excited to see them. Normally, you have to sign up for a processing service or go through a salesperson to sign up for a demo before you can actually test out the software. I really like a company makes a demo mode available — but keep in mind it’s not automatically a sign of a quality product.
SwipeSimple runs on both iOS and Android, and the site advertises that the app is designed to work with different screen sizes. That means your iPad app isn’t just a scaled up version of the iPhone app, which generally translates to a better overall experience. As far as app requirements, you’ll need the following:
- iOS 9.0 or higher OR Android 5.0 or higher
- Bluetooth v4.0
- SwipeSimple v4.0 or higher (Note: it’s generally safer to update your app regularly than use an outdated version, especially since processing apps tend to make upgrades to security.)
I don’t love the design of the app. I find it fairly basic, but it’s not hideous. And overall SwipeSimple is fairly intuitive. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing right away, you can play around in the demo mode without causing any harm. And even if you don’t use the demo mode, it’s hard to mess something up in the app without meaning to. I almost want to say SwipeSimple is on par with Square Point of Sale (read our review) for simplicity. However, keep in mind that Square’s back-end features are far more complex (and you can actually play with quite a few of them from within the app itself).
Feature-wise, here’s what you can expect from the app:
- Mobile/Register Modes: If you plan to use SwipeSimple on a tablet as part of a more traditional countertop setup, the app does include a “Register Mode” with a few additional features. Namely, that includes support for per-item and total transaction discounts, as well as favorite pages.
- SMS/Email Receipts: Unsurprising, but good to note that you can send receipts via SMS and email. This includes cash transactions.
- Show Change For Cash: Pretty standard fare here.
- Signature Collection Options: You can turn signatures always on, always off, or always on for transactions over $25.
- Item Catalog: Create a catalog of products for easy reference. You can also punch in amounts for custom items or quick sales if you don’t want to mess with inventory.
- Inventory Management: Alongside the catalog, SwipeSimple’s tools include the ability to track inventory quantities, set item categories, and even include SKUs. While it’s not the most advanced system, the ability to keep track of inventory is quite helpful.
- Offline Mode: One of the features I certainly didn’t expect to find is an offline mode, so you can process transactions without a WiFi or cellular connection. You can set a maximum transaction amount for offline transactions as a precaution. Offline transactions must be processed within 30 days, and you must either swipe or key in the card — no chip transactions allowed. Some other limitations also apply, and obviously, you’re assuming the risk for any failed transactions.
- Save Card Information: You can toggle this feature on to prompt customers to save their card data for faster checkouts later.
- In-App Reporting: Sales from past 24 hours, week, or 30 days.
- Discounts: You can set discounts by percentage or by dollar amount, and in register mode, apply them to either single items or the total transaction.
- Tax Settings: SwipeSimple isn’t hugely advanced in its sales tax settings, but you can set the tax rate and automatically apply it to all transactions.
- Tips: In the app, you can enable tipping and set the prompt to specific amounts (as well as allow a custom amount).
- Multi-User Accounts: While the app’s multi-user settings aren’t as advanced as a full-fledged POS, you can create multiple user accounts with two levels of permission and track sales by employee.
- Reference Numbers: The app doesn’t offer a detailed note section, but you can include reference numbers in transactions so you can keep a record of relevant information.
That covers the vast majority of features. The other major concern is supported hardware with the app. I mentioned that SwipeSimple has a Register mode. For external hardware, merchants can connect Star Micronics’ mPOP with integrated cash drawer and receipt printer. There’s also a small Bluetooth thermal receipt printer. And, of course, SwipeSimple’s compatible mobile card readers. Because SwipeSimple resells its product, the card readers offered by its resellers will vary. In the case of Payment Depot’s mobile offering, merchants have a choice of two options: The Swift B200, and the Swift B250.
The B200 is a 2-in-one card reader with support for magstripe and chip transactions, about the size of a business card (the official specs are 2.4 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.6 inches). It connects via Bluetooth so it’s compatible with recent iOS and Android devices.
The Swift B250 is an all-in-one reader, so it supports swipe, chip, and contactless transactions. It’s a square device that measures 2.6 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.7 inches. The B250 also works with a charging dock (optional and sold separately), so if you wanted a countertop setup, it might be the better option.
Other SwipeSimple Features
I didn’t expect to find too much in the way of “extra” features outside of the mobile app and mobile card reader, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are the “extras” that you get with the SwipeSimple platform through Payment Depot Mobile:
- Virtual Terminal: If you’d like to key in payments from your computer to supplement the mobile app, the SwipeSimple merchant portal includes a virtual terminal. You’ll pay the keyed-in rate for transactions, obviously, but this is always a nice touch.
- Customer Database: I mentioned above that you can save card data in the app for later use. That’s because SwipeSimple offers a customer database (managed from its online portal). In addition to keeping track of the purchase history for each customer, you can review the data and see who your best customers are.
- Flexible Billing Tools: SwipeSimple presents this as an extension of its customer database, which is a bit different than most other comparable options. But with SwipeSimple’s online platform, you can use the customer database to save cards to charge later, as well as create subscriptions and installment plans for payments. Considering that SwipeSimple doesn’t offer online payments, I was very surprised to find this. It’s a huge way to add value to the platform.
I went into this review expecting to see another so-so sort of mobile app. I’ve seen a lot of them over the past few years. But what surprised me, genuinely, is how advanced the SwipeSimple merchant platform is. Between the inventory tracking and the customer database with support for subscriptions and installment payments, SwipeSimple starts to approach the level of complexity that we see in Square. Obviously, there are no online payments, and SwipeSimple is by no means a complete POS app. But if you’d like a budget-friendly solution with some of the frills (but not all of them), I struggle to find any reason not to use SwipeSimple.
Rates & Fees
With Payment Depot, you actually have a choice of two payment processing plans. The first that we’ll talk about is the newer option, targeted at low-volume merchants. This offer is exclusive to Merchant Maverick readers, so you’ll need to use the links in this review to sign up!
This exclusive payment plan, which we’ll call the low-volume plan, is a month-to-month agreement. Merchants who opt for this plan will pay the following:
- $10 monthly fee
- 2.6% + $0.10 for most swiped, dipped, or tapped transactions
- 3.2% + $0.10 per keyed entry or corporate card transaction
With this plan, there’s no monthly minimum, and no other fees apart from the monthly fee. Payment Depot will also provide a free chip card/magstripe Bluetooth card reader, the Swift B200. If you’d like to upgrade to an all-in-one reader with contactless support (the Swift B250), that’s a $25 cost. However, $25 for an all-in-one reader is a great price, and it’s certainly future proof.
I’m going to be upfront here — 2.6% + $0.10 isn’t going to be the most competitive pricing for merchants with very small ticket sizes. If your typical transaction is under $10, this flat rate pricing from Payment Depot is going to be more competitive than interchange-plus pricing in many cases, but it won’t be as cost-efficient as a flat percentage-based transaction.
Let’s take a minute to actually look at a couple of scenarios so you can see what a difference $0.10 can make for a merchant with a small transaction size. We’re going to look at processing fees on Payment Depot’s low-volume plan, with a merchant doing $10,000/month in card transactions and an average transaction size of $15 versus a merchant doing the same volume but an average transaction size of $50. Then we’ll compare that to a flat 2.75% processing fee.
Scenario 1: $10,000/monthly volume, $15 transaction size, 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
- No. Of Transactions: 667
- Processing Fees: $260 + 66.67
- Monthly Fee: $10
- Total Processing Costs: $336.67
Scenario 2: $10,000/monthly volume, $50 transaction size, 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
- No. Of Transactions: 200
- Processing Fees: $260 + 20
- Monthly Fee: $10
- Total Processing Costs: $290
Scenario 3: $10,000/monthly volume, 2.75% per transaction
Note: Transaction size, in this case, is irrelevant because the calculations don’t rely on the number of total transactions, just the total volume
- Monthly Fee: $0
- Total Processing Costs: $275
This is why I say it’s always really important that you actually do the math and calculate your processing costs yourself. 2.6% + $0.10 and 2.75% look very similar on paper, but for some merchants, such as coffee shop owners, it could mean a substantial difference in processing costs, especially as your volume picks up. In the scenario above, at $10,000/month in card transactions, a merchant with an average transaction size of $15 would pay $336.67/month in processing costs –nearly $40 more than a merchant with an average transaction size of $50 on the same rate plan (2.6% + $0.10) — and both plans end up costing more than a simple 2.75% per transaction.
However, unlike the vast majority of mobile processors, Payment Depot gives you the stability of your own merchant account, which is no small consideration. It could easily justify the pricing, especially if you’ve already been burned by a third-party mobile payment processor in the past or you’re wary of taking the risk.
The second pricing option is Payment Depot’s standard pricing, which is more suitable to higher volume merchants (those doing at least $10,000/month). Payment Depot works on a membership structure, where you’ll pay a monthly fee to get interchange rates with a small flat fee per transaction. The pricing scales according to volume, with a higher monthly fee and smaller per-transaction fee.
Payment Depot’s standard pricing model is great for businesses that deal with large transactions, particularly when they’re doing credit card processing in volumes above $10,000/month. So larger businesses may want to look at PD’s traditional payment options. But smaller merchants should absolutely take advantage of the flat-rate 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction. Again, if you’d like to sign up for this low-volume plan, you need to use the links in this review; otherwise, you’ll be presented with Payment Depot’s standard pricing plans.
Contract & Cancellation
With Payment Depot, you get month-to-month agreements with no cancellation fees and no monthly minimums. You can cancel whenever you want without incurring any sort of early termination fee. This is exactly what we like to see. Plus, you’re getting your own merchant account rather than an aggregated account, which translates to a greater amount of stability than you would get with a provider such as Square. (That’s not to say aggregators like Square are inherently bad; they just have a risk of account instability that Payment Depot doesn’t.)
Sales & Advertising Transparency
As we’ve discussed in our full Payment Depot review, we have no serious qualms with the quality or transparency of PD’s advertising and information disclosure. While the site could do marginally better explaining why the Payment Depot pricing model is one of the best out there, it’s done well enough. By all accounts, Payment Depot’s customers are happy with the service. You won’t see complaints about how merchants feel they were lied to and ripped off, which is…well, the biggest red flag that something is seriously wrong with a processor.
SwipeSimple is also very good at its own disclosures and transparency. The website clearly spells out how its platform works, including its partnerships with different payment processors, and a clear mention that to get Swipe Simple you need to sign up with a processing partner.
I’m pretty happy in this regard. Clear pricing disclosures and month-to-month agreements are easy ways to score a good rating around here. As the resident mobile payments expert, I’m always happy to see competitive, stable options for mobile and low-volume merchants. Payment Depot is delivering on all counts.
Customer Service & Technical Support
As far as customer service, we’re happy to say that Payment Depot offers 24/7 phone support to deal with all kinds of account-related issues. You’ll probably get better customer service during standard business hours (7 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time) because TSYS and First Data pick up some of the slack in the after-hours. But Payment Depot does have staff who monitor support requests 24/7.
Payment Depot isn’t great about self-help resources; there’s no knowledgebase, just a generic FAQ section on the website. This is a reversal from many pay-as-you-go mobile processing services that tend to offer great self-help resources but more limited live customer support. But you will be able to get software support through SwipeSimple, which has its own self-service support portal and FAQ.
If you check out the SwipeSimple site, you’ll see first of all that it clearly discloses that for account-specific matters, you’ll have to go through your payment processor (in this case, Payment Depot) for support. However, you can contact SwipeSimple via phone or email if you have questions relating to the app and its features. I’m not thrilled by SwipeSimple’s knowledgebase, but it covers the major points, and it’s nice to know the company is available if you have questions.
One thing I do like is a site where you can check whether SwipeSimple’s platform is working. This is akin to Square and Stripe, both of which have update sites to tell you if there are any outages. The fact that SwipeSimple offers this says that the company has put thought into its platform, its infrastructure, and its user experience.
If you look at the reviews for SwipeSimple in the Apple and Google Play app stores, the first thing you’ll notice is that there aren’t a whole lot of reviews — just 33 in iTunes, and 179 in Google Play. At the same time, Google Play also advertises that the app has had 50,000 downloads. (Apple doesn’t freely disclose the number of downloads for an app.) The reviews from both sources are middling, at best. Obviously, middling reviews are better than terrible ones, but they’re not quite as good as rave reviews.
The complaints about SwipeSimple in the app stores are fairly common to smaller mobile credit card processing apps. Specifically, I see complaints about lots of glitches after an app update, and trouble with card readers connecting to different devices. That’s not to dismiss the claims — they’re valid, and I am sure they’re legitimate. One of the big problems with the Android space is that it’s so fractured that getting universal support for everything is a challenge. But do I think every merchant on Android has trouble with SwipeSimple every time there’s an update? Not even close. There would be a much bigger number of complaints about the app.
Apart from the app stores, it’s hard to find a lot of reviews for SwipeSimple. In part, that’s because SwipeSimple isn’t available directly to merchants; you can only get it through a reseller. That means a lot of the reviews are going to be tied to the payment processor, and given that SwipeSimple integrates with so many, that’s a lot of information to wade through. Experience has taught me that comments about these mobile apps tend to make up only a small part of the chatter about a particular processor.
But we can look at user reviews for Payment Depot as a processing service — and those are overwhelmingly positive. You will find a small number of complaints, but those problems are usually a result of trouble with one of Payment Depot’s back-end processors (usually First Data). The other main source of complaints about Payment Depot comes from merchants who aren’t suited for the company’s processing business — mostly high-risk businesses. That said, Payment Depot handles these complaints in a mature and sincere fashion and works to make the situation right for merchants. Generally speaking, as long as you aren’t working in a high-risk or prohibited industry, and you’ve done the math to make sure the pricing works for you, you shouldn’t have any trouble with Payment Depot’s mobile processing.
I thought I knew what to expect when I set out to do this review of Payment Depot’s mobile processing service. I expected to find something run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road, but with good pricing from a great merchant provider. That alone would have been enough to secure a pretty solid rating.
But Payment Depot went better than “good enough” in choosing a mobile processing app for its customers. I’m genuinely impressed by the array of features. SwipeSimple isn’t quite as powerful as an all in one platform, but it’s so much more than just a barebones mobile processing app. It has found a middle ground that I didn’t really think existed. While the inventory tools could be more advanced, this app has opted to focus on including a key point — quantity tracking — rather than bells and whistles such as modifiers or variants or descriptions. The customer database, combined with the billing tools, could genuinely be useful to many merchants from all kinds of industries. You can use SwipeSimple in a countertop POS setup, and as long as you didn’t expect all the capabilities of a full POS, you most likely wouldn’t be disappointed. Plus, a free Bluetooth-enabled chip card reader is always a plus. Right now, Shopify is the only other processor offering one (read our Shopify Lite review for more information about the company’s standalone mobile processing).
A lot of merchant account providers don’t offer standalone mobile processing. It’s usually bundled as an extension of other services. The only other two I’ve reviewed at Merchant Maverick are Payline Mobile (read our review) and Fattmerchant Mobile (read our review). Of the three options, only Payline and Payment Depot offer a cost-effective pricing structure for low-volume merchants, and I have no issue with saying that Payment Depot’s mobile processing plan — with the exclusive rate for Merchant Maverick readers — beats Payline’s. I am genuinely excited at having another cost-effective, highly stable mobile processing option in the mix because it makes the entire industry way more competitive.
For all of these reasons, I’m happy to award Payment Depot Mobile a perfect 5-star rating. The overall value of the app, plus Payment Depot’s pricing and customer service, make it competitive for all kinds of businesses, including low-volume merchants.
That said, I do have a couple of caveats: Obviously, Payment Depot isn’t a suitable processing option for high-risk industries. If you know you’re a high-risk business or you’ve been told by other processors that you’re a high-risk business, check out our recommended high-risk processors. Second, if you are looking for the absolute lowest processing costs for small transaction sizes or will only be processing infrequently (once a month or every few months), you will probably be better served by Square (read our review). Just be aware that as a third-party processor, Square does come with a certain degree of risk — you are more likely to face a sudden account holds or termination with Square than you would with Payment Depot.
If you’re after great value, a functional mobile processing app with more than just the basics, and reliable payment processing, Payment Depot is a great solution for you. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you, so drop us a comment!