PayPal Here Review
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- Date Established
- San Jose, CA
- Trusted by consumers
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- Ideal for low-volume merchants
- Chip card-compatible hardware
- Extensive device compatibility
- In-app invoicing available
- Free sub-user accounts
- Account stability issues
- Inconsistent customer support
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
PayPal Here (PPH) launched its mobile card reader in 2012 after services like Square and PayAnywhere demonstrated that pay-as-you-go, standalone mobile payment processing accounts were in high demand. It fast became a major force to contend with, and with the brand recognition of PayPal and quite a lot of money backing it, that’s no surprise.
Seriously, though — PayPal has 218 million active user accounts and 17 million merchant accounts. Within its merchant services division, the company offers a comprehensive suite of services, from the mobile POS app (which s the reason we’re here) and online card processing to business financing, POS partnerships, and so much more. It’s a massive ecosystem and one that PayPal is looking to expand. We already reviewed PayPal as a merchant service provider, so a lot of that information, especially about the overall experience, also pertains to its Paypal Here mobile processing service.
One of my favorite aspects of PayPal as a whole is the seamless experience for merchants. In person, online, on the go — you can take payments and access your money virtually anywhere. Setting up PayPal Here to be part of that is an easy experience.
On its own, PayPal Here is not the most comprehensive, feature-rich mPOS app out there. That honor goes to the other major name in this space: Square. But PPH has everything you need to process payments on the go. It even supports a countertop setup for those who don’t need advanced POS capabilities but do want a register.
I’m happy to say PayPal Here is definitely, solidly, in second place for mPOS features. It has well-designed card readers and an intuitive, capable app, backed by the PayPal name and a broader suite of merchant services. PayPal Here makes a great addition to your merchant setup whether PayPal is your primary processor or not. However, using PayPal is not without its drawbacks, namely inconsistent customer service and less stable accounts than you get with a merchant account.
I’m completely comfortable giving PayPal Here 4 stars for now. If we were to see more stable accounts or improved customer service, that would merit raising PayPal’s rating. But until then, PayPal Here will hold steady with a very respectable rating and our general recommendation. You’ll do pretty well with this app and PayPal in general.
Check out the full review for more information, and please leave a comment with your thoughts or experiences about PayPal Here!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
NOTE: PayPal Here is still not available for Canadian merchants, although a small pilot program did launch in Canada. We’ve received a lot of inquiries about this and will post an update if we ever hear about any changes from PayPal. In the meantime, Square is a great alternative that offers processing to all Canadian merchants.
PayPal Here doesn’t even come close to replacing a full POS, but it will give you a countertop register option as well as a mobile card reader. And while the feature set isn’t as advanced of POS, it offers all of the basic features you’d expect from a mobile system, and then some. It’s easy to get started, and if you use PayPal for anything else, all your information will be consolidated in one place.
As far as PPH is concerned, here’s the feature rundown:
- Quick Sale Mode: Just punch in an amount and charge the card. The transaction will be recorded, but no items will be added to sales reports.
- Cash and check recording: Manage all of your payments in one place with the ability to log cash and check payments.
- Invoicing: This comes as part of the broader PayPal business account, but you can send invoices to customers through the web, or directly in the PayPal Here app. The invoice itself is free to send, but when you get paid, Paypal takes out 2.9% plus $0.30. Being able to do this in-app is a major plus.
- Item library: Build an inventory of products through the dashboard or in-app. PayPal Here will store photos, price, descriptions, and other information, so you can simply select the item instead of having to total up sales yourself. You can also run sales reports based on your library.
- Item variants: PayPal Here also lets you create item variants for different colors and sizes — and you can set different prices for those variants.
- Item add-ons: This is a newer feature, but if you have the option to add- on products (say, extra espresso shots in a latte) to your items.
- Item categories: Sort items into categories and even create a list of your best sellers for quick reference.
- Custom tax: If you have the “new” merchant account, you can configure PayPal Here to auto-set your tax rate based on GPS location; otherwise you can manually adjust it in the app.
- Custom tip options: Set up tipping at checkout, and even suggest a custom number by percentage or dollar amounts.
- Discounts: PayPal Here supports the option to add discounts at checkout if you’re having a sale.
- Refunds and partial refunds: You’ll have to be using the primary PayPal Here account for this, but you can send refunds from within the app.
- Enable signatures for transactions under $25: If you want a bit more payment security, you can choose to enable required signatures for transactions under $25 (it’s automatically required for transactions over $25).
- Sub-user accounts: If you have a team of users, you can create secondary accounts and assign permissions PayPal brags that you can create 1,000 of these accounts at no extra charge, which is admittedly impressive. Square will charge you for this feature because it comes as part of the employee management package.
- Support for cash drawers, tablet stands, and receipt printers, and barcode scanners: You really can build an entire register setup with PayPal Here. I’ll go into more detail about this in a moment. (Skip down a couple paragraphs to the “Compatible Hardware” section.)
- Same-day funding: Funds go to your PayPal account almost immediately. Sign up for a PayPal merchant debit card and get access to the cash right away, even when you’re not spending it online. As a bonus, it’ll make your bookkeeping easier if you only use it for business expenses.
There’s nothing particularly new or innovative about the PayPal Here app. (I’m not sure any mPOS app is truly “innovative” anymore, to be fair.) But it is well designed. Everything is easy to use. You can manage a lot of these features right from within the app, as well as online. PayPal FINALLY allows merchants to control some big aspects of PPH from the PayPal dashboard. You just have to enable the “new” merchant service.
Something I would very much like to see, that Square has already implemented, is an offline mode. Sometimes, try as you might, an internet signal is just not available. In those cases, PPH is useless for processing cards, but Square will actually let you swipe cards and then store that information for up to 72 hours. Yes, there are some liability issues, but it’s a very good feature — and a much better alternative to a manual credit card machine when you don’t have Internet access.
A better inventory system would be nice. Right now you can create a library of items and run sales reports, and manage items from within the app or web dashboard. However, the app won’t automatically count inventory or deduct when something is sold — for that you need to integrate a service Shopventory (starting at $30/month).
PayPal Here Compatible Hardware
While Square has a half dozen or more card reader options, PayPal Here has just two. Here are your choices:
- Free audio jack swiper: PayPal has had at least three iterations of its little free reader, the most recent of which is a slick black triangle (no more blue!). I like the shape and tend to think it’s a lot more stable than a big clunky box that will flop around while you try to swipe a card. Need your card swiper right away? Buy one at a local store for $15, and PayPal will reimburse you. Otherwise, if you can wait, they’ll mail you one for free.
- Chip card readers: Accept chip-and-PIN, NFC, and magstripe transactions with one of Paypal’s chip card readers. Options start at $24.99 for an EMV/swipe reader and go up to $79. It’s nice to finally see multiple hardware options from PayPal Here. My favorite PayPal chip card reader is the first one it launched, a licensed Miura M010, but I think all of these readers are fairly well designed. PayPal offers docks so you can mount the readers on a countertop and not worry about charging, but they also function well as mobile devices.
PayPal Here also supports register setups with tablet stands, receipt printers, and barcode scanners. Receipt printers really depend on which OS you’re using (check out the list on the PayPal site). Cash drawers, according to PayPal, are supported if they “connect to a Star receipt printer and are equipped with the MultiPro 320 Volt interface connection”.
For barcode scanners, it’s worth noting that you can only use an actual USB scanner on Windows devices (supported models are the Honeywell 1200G and Intermec SG20T). For Apple and Android users, your device’s camera operates as a barcode scanner instead.
PayPal Here Supported Devices
PayPal Here is currently the only mPOS app I’m aware of that supports Windows devices in addition to Android and Apple devices. The requirements vary from one system to the next. And, understandably, Windows support is pretty sparse.
Check out the list of supported devices on the PayPal site. It appears that the list of compatible Windows devices might have grown to include Windows 10 devices, but compatibility with the hardware is spotty at best.
Fees & Rates
PayPal Here does a spectacularly great job at disclosing its fees and rates. Apart from the transactions themselves, you pay nothing unless there’s a chargeback (which is fairly rare in card-present environments).
If you’re just using PayPal Here, though, this is what you can expect to pay:
- Swiped Transactions: 2.7%
- Keyed-In or Scanned Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- PayPal Transactions: 2.7%
- Cross-Border Transactions, Swiped and PayPal: 3.7%
- Cross-Border Transactions, Keyed In or Scanned: 4.5% + $0.15
You won’t see any:
- Monthly/annual fees
- PCI compliance fees
- Setup fees
- Equipment fees
…or any other fees not mentioned above. There really are no hidden fees with PayPal Here or with the core PayPal offerings. If you process a lot of American Express transactions, you could potentially save money with PayPal because of its flat-rate pricing. You’ll actually pay less for a lot of American Express transactions with PayPal, even if you might pay a little bit more for some kinds of Visa and MasterCard transactions. (Please note: pricing comparisons like this can get complicated, and this is a generalized explanation. If you want to know more about pricing for credit card processing, check out our complete guide to credit card processing rates and fees.
The only thing you should be aware of is the $20 chargeback fee. That’s pretty standard in the industry because dealing with chargebacks is a headache for any payment processor.
For a comprehensive list of all PayPal fees, both for mobile processing at everything else, check out this useful page.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
PayPal is a third-party payments processor, which means it aggregates accounts. That means you can get signed up and start processing almost right away, and there are no monthly costs or early termination fees.
Not only that, but some of the smaller mobile processors have started implementing a non-activity fee. After a year of inactivity, these companies will start charging you $2.99 to $3.99 monthly until you start using the service again or cancel your account. PayPal doesn’t have any sort of stipulation like that.
If you already have a PayPal business account, it’s fairly easy to start using PayPal Here — though you’re not automatically guaranteed access. You’ll have to apply and wait for approval. This process doesn’t take too long, but it’s not guaranteed. Merchants who haven’t been approved are understandably upset. However, PayPal doesn’t offer any information about why those merchants haven’t been approved.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
As we said in our main PayPal review, sales and advertising are incredibly upfront. All of PayPal’s rates are listed in plain sight, so there’s no hidden agenda. Most of its business comes directly from the website or via referrals. This is the way business should be done in my opinion. PayPal has managed to solve a problem so well it doesn’t need to shove a product down your throat. You don’t have to worry about an overly aggressive sales team promising you the world and a bucket of lies to go with.
As far as PayPal Here, specifically, you’ll find some tutorials and other videos on the YouTube page, so you can get a feel for the app before you even sign up. I’ve seen periodic Facebook ads for PayPal, as well, and obviously you can get the basic card readers in some stores. There’s a couple of web pages devoted to PayPal Here on the main site (including pages devoted to each PayPal chip card reader), but it doesn’t have its own site. PayPalHere.com actually just redirects to the PayPal site.
That’s about it for advertising or marketing.
Customer Service & Technical Support
For PayPal Here, you’ll be using PayPal’s main support system. As we covered in our main PayPal merchant service review, PayPal has a bunch of different customer service and support options including:
- Community Forum
- Phone/Email: PayPal’s phone support is notoriously inconsistent. If you have an account-related issue, you’ll have to call in, but for most other questions, concerns, or problems you can find help through one of PayPal’s other support channels.
- Social Media: In addition to the primary Twitter account and Facebook, there’s even an @AskPaypal Twitter account where they’ll field your service and support questions.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t have a separate BBB account for its PayPal Here processing. It doesn’t even have a separate BBB account for its consumer wallet versus its merchant services. That means the thousands of complaints on the BBB are a mixed bag of complaints about its P2P payments transfers, eBay and other customer-initiated eCommerce transaction, and merchant complaints.
I’ve read the BBB complaints for the past year, and there are hardly any complaints relating specifically to the PayPal Here app. In fact, the best information about PayPal Here actually comes from the app store reviews, not the BBB or even RipOffReport.
The one concern that you should definitely take to heart is this:
- Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts: PayPal is an aggregator, which mean there’s an inherent amount of account instability. You can get set up almost right away, but it means PayPal will be analyzing your processing habits to make sure you’re not too much of a risk. Upticks in processing volume and other red flags will trigger an account review, followed by a hold/reserve, a freeze or even an account termination. But that’s ultimately the risk of using any sort of aggregator, so complaints about PayPal holding funds aren’t exactly unique. You can also learn how to avoid holds, freezes, and terminations here.
Other consistent complaints about PayPal Here include:
- Inconsistent customer service: Much like Square, PayPal’s customer support is designed to efficiently solve 95% of problems with minimal human interaction. You probably don’t actually need to talk to a person to troubleshoot a lot of issues you might encounter. However, for the remaining 5% of issues, you’re going to need to talk to someone in person. Phone support seems to be hit or miss, but if you do have a problem you can often go through the BBB and get to a real person who will work with you.
- Glitches: This isn’t too surprising, but some users have become frustrated that recent updates to the app have led to little bugs that cause the app to crash. Some might be device specific. And of course, especially in the Android system, not every device will work perfectly with the app.
That’s really about it for complaints. Overall, the reviews in the app stores for PayPal Here are very positive, which indicates a well-designed app with good features.
Want to understand more about how we rate companies and how your comments come into play? Check out our article about negativity bias.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
PayPal isn’t exactly disruptive tech, so there isn’t a lot of press coverage for it after the initial launch. A few other big sites have reviewed the app, but most of the comments come from the app store reviews: Google Play, Apple iTunes, and yes, the Windows store.
To be sure, there are negative reviews (mostly relating to those glitches I mentioned) — but the ratings for the app are overall positive: 4.3 stars on more than 30,000 ratings in Google Play, 4 stars on more than 3,600 ratings in iTunes, and a respectable 3.9 stars in the Windows store.
From what I’ve read online and learned from talks with PayPal Here users, these are the most praise-worthy features:
- Quick funding and access to cash with PayPal debit card: Your money goes into your PayPal account almost instantly and you can spend it online. With the debit card, you can spend it anywhere — and you’ll get 1% cash back. Most other processors, traditional or pay-as-you-go, take at least 24 hours. And now PayPal has an instant transfer option to move funds to your bank for a nominal fee of $0.25.
- Well-designed card readers: PayPal’s basic little magstripe reader is reliable and easy to use. Nothing fancy, but it does work the way it’s meant to work for the most part. The PayPal chip card readers are also well designed and affordable.
- Easy-to-use app: The PayPal Here app, as we’ve said, is intuitive and easy to understand even to a newbie.
- No hidden fees: When processors start tacking on extra fees, merchant profits start going away. But you won’t run into that with PayPal Here — ever.
- Seamless integration with PayPal business account: Many merchants these days sell in stores, online, and on the go. When you use PayPal, everything is integrated seamlessly. You won’t be running reports from different sources and comparing them — all your data (and your money) is available in one place. PayPal has even upped the ease of integration and given you more control over the app and its settings from the PayPal web dashboard.
While it has some shortcomings when compared to traditional merchant account providers (namely less stability and less reliable customer service), and it doesn’t quite match up the value of Square, PayPal Here has everything most new and mid-sized businesses need to take payments on the go. PPH will even work in a brick-and-mortar store if your needs are pretty simple.
I would absolutely recommend PayPal’s mobile card reader to anyone interested in standalone, pay-as-you-go processing. It’s not perfect, but PayPal Here deserves a commendable 4 stars for its ease of use, great hardware, transparency and overall dependability. It’s not perfect, but it’s undoubtedly among the best in mobile processing.
If you also sell online, or want to sell online, there’s a pretty clear advantage to using PayPal, too. Check out our full PayPal review for more information about the company’s online credit card processing.
However, you should do your own research and decide which option is best for you. Red reviews, make a list of must-have features. When you’re ready, check out our list of top-rated merchant account providers and mobile processors. You can also check out our Square vs. PayPal Here article for an in-depth look at the two.
What’s your experience with PayPal Here? Good, bad, somewhere in between? If you have insights, please leave a comment. We’re always happy to hear from you!