PayPal Here Review
Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Date Established
- San Jose, CA
- Easy-to-use interface
- Extensive device compatibility
- In-app invoicing available
- Free sub-user accounts
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- Ideal for low-volume merchants
- Chip-card-compatible hardware
- Time-tested and trusted by consumers
- Account stability issues
- Inconsistent customer support
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
- Not ideal for higher-volume merchants
By 2012, PayPal had long established itself as a giant in the online payments industry. With companies such as Square having already demonstrated that pay-as-you-go, standalone mobile payment processing was in high demand, PayPal decided to launch PayPal Here (PPH), its new mobile payment processing service. The system is comprised of a mobile card reader and a free mobile app.
PayPal Here offers a comprehensive suite of services for merchants, from the mobile POS app (the focus of this review) as well as online card processing, business financing, POS partnerships, and much more. With 325 million active users, PayPal is a massive ecosystem — one that is continuously expanding. If you’re curious about PayPal’s extended universe of merchant services beyond this review’s mPOS focus, check out our full PayPal review. With this article, we are going to take a deep dive into the mobile offshoot of PayPal’s services and find out how it measures up against what we look for in a good mobile processor.
One of my favorite aspects of PayPal as a whole is the seamless experience provided to merchants. In-person, online, on the go — you can take payments and access your money wherever you happen to be. Setting up an account with PayPal Here is easy, which is also important for busy merchants. Considering its extensive mPOS features, PayPal holds its own. It offers well-designed and up-to-date card readers along with an intuitive, capable app, which is backed by the PayPal name and a wide array of merchant services.
However, 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. Still, PPH has everything you need to process payments on the go. It even supports a countertop set up for those who don’t need advanced POS capabilities but do want a register. Whether or not PayPal is your primary processor, the PayPal Here app makes a great addition to your merchant setup. PayPal is not without its drawbacks, though — its customer service is inconsistent, and it has less stability than you’d get with a dedicated merchant account.
PayPal Here currently gets a decent 4-star score. If we were to see an improvement in customer service and if PayPal were to address some of the issues with account stability, that would merit us raising the score. Despite these potential drawbacks, we still recommend PayPal Here as a good mobile processing contender. We’re confident that the majority of businesses would be well-served by using this app and PayPal in general.
Keep reading for more information, and if you’ve used the system, please leave a comment with your thoughts or experiences about PayPal Here!
PayPal Here Review At A Glance
PayPal Here is PayPal’s mobile credit card processing app. The mobile POS and card readers allow merchants to accept credit cards virtually anywhere with just a smartphone or tablet. The PayPal Here app works in tandem with PayPal’s other business account features, including invoicing and online checkout. The end result is an easy-to-use platform for small businesses with a low barrier to entry.
PayPal’s pay-as-you-go, flat-rate pricing is a great deal for new business and micromerchants who can save money compared with a merchant account. However, the third-party processing model that PayPal uses means merchants do face a higher potential for held funds. PayPal Here reviews from merchants also indicate that customer service can be very spotty, at best. While PayPal Here isn’t a perfect solution for every business, many merchants will benefit from using it, despite the potential drawbacks.
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 payment 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 as a full 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, your information gets consolidated in one place.
Here are some of the features you’ll find in PayPal Here:
- Quick-Sale Mode: Need to take a sale quickly? Just punch in an amount and charge the card. The transaction gets recorded, but no items get added to your sales reports.
- Cash & Check Recording: Manage all of your payments in one place with the ability to log cash and check payments. Check payments are a bit unique in the mobile space and can be a plus for some customer demographics.
- Invoicing: Invoicing features come with your PayPal business account. 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% + $0.30. Being able to send invoices within the app is a major plus.
- Item Library: Build an inventory of products through the dashboard or in-app. PayPal Here will store photos, prices, 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, sizes, or any other type of variation you need — and you can set different prices for those variants.
- Item Add-Ons: PayPal Here added this feature to allow you to add a little something extra to a customer’s order (e.g., extra espresso shots in a latte).
- Item Categories: Sort items into categories and even create a list of your best sellers for quick reference. Creating categories can make things a lot easier when it comes time to adjust inventory and take a sale.
- Custom Tax: If you have the “new” merchant view enabled, 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 & Partial Refunds: You’ll have to use the primary PayPal Here account for this, but you can send refunds from within the app.
- Recurring Billing: PayPal lets you set up recurring billing options, but this add-on service costs an additional $10/month. Recurring billing requires saving a customer’s information on file. It makes sense you’d pay a little extra for a service that includes the secure data storage and the additional risk involved with a card-not-present sale.
- Reporting: You can access your sales reports by time, specific products, and even by each employee.
- Sub-User Accounts: PayPal gives merchants a generous 1,000 additional sub-account users with unique permissions (at no extra charge), which is admittedly impressive. As a comparison, Square charges a monthly fee for this feature, as it’s bundled with the premium employee management suite of tools.
- Support For Register Setup: You really can build an entire register setup with PayPal Here, with support for cash drawers, tablet stands, receipt printers, and barcode scanners. I’ll give you some examples of what you can get in an upcoming 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.
Services offered by a PayPal Here alternative: Square
|Free App & Reader||Square eCommerce||Square for Retail||Square for Restaurants|
|Get Started||Get Started||Get Started||Get Started|
|Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android||Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization||Specialized software for more complex retail stores||Specialized software for full-service restaurants|
|Always Free||Always Free||Free Trial||Free Trial|
While there’s nothing particularly new or innovative about the PayPal Here app itself, it’s well-designed, easy-to-navigate features fit the bill for almost any need you’d encounter on the go. As a bonus, most of the features are also easily managed right from within the app, making it a truly mobile option. Plus, connecting to a PayPal point of sale device is a cinch. However, it’s missing a few key features that may be a deal-breaker for some merchants.
One thing that I’d like to see PayPal add is an offline mode. An offline mode allows you to securely add all of your customer’s credit card information into the app despite a non-existent internet connection. Whether you’re offline temporarily due to an outage or you’re offsite, you shouldn’t have to worry about stopping business because of a bad connection. Square is a processor that still lets you swipe cards and then stores that information for up to 72 hours until you get connected. Using an offline mode poses some additional liability in the event of fraud, but it’s minimal. In my opinion, it’s preferable to halting business altogether or writing down credit card information. Doing so can get you in a lot of hot water should that information be compromised or a chargeback occurs.
The other feature we’d like to see improved is a better inventory system. Right now, you can create a library of items, run sales reports, and manage items from within the app or web dashboard, and that’s all great. However, the app won’t automatically count inventory or deduct when you sell something. For that, you will need to integrate Shopventory.
So what’s Shopventory, you may ask. Shopventory offers a 30-day free trial, after which you’ll need at least a Starter Plan, which costs $39 per month for a year (or $49 per month if you choose to pay monthly). With this option, you get storage for a year’s worth of order history and reporting as well as unlimited transactions. Shopventory can also give you low-stock alerts, automatic inventory updating with a sale, and profitability reporting, among other features. For businesses with a robust inventory, having to spend the extra cash on additional software may be off-putting. It’s also not out of the ordinary with services such as PayPal Here that offer a low-cost reader and free app.
PayPal Here Credit Card Reader Options
You’ll need a PayPal mobile card reader to pair with your app, and there are four to choose from. I like that PayPal Here offers readers with various price points and functionalities, so you can find one that’s the right fit for you. PayPal also provides docks, so you can mount the readers on a countertop and not worry about charging. They also function well as mobile devices. Note that you can accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express with these readers.
- Chip & Swipe Reader: This mobile reader costs $24.99, but at the time of this review, PayPal offers it for free for all new PayPal Here accounts. We recommend this reader to cover the latest payment security standards, as it is EMV compliant and can read all chip cards. Read our PayPal Chip & Swipe Reader review to get the full story.
- Chip & Tap Reader: This reader is the next tier up and also allows you to take digital wallet payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. It costs $59.99, but you can also get the PayPal Chip and Tap Bundle for $79 and get yourself the stand, too. Check out our review of the PayPal Chip & Tap Reader for more info.
- Chip Card Reader: This little chip card reader also enables PIN payments, magnetic, chip cards, and even contactless payments from digital wallets. It’s a small handheld device, and PayPal also offers various accessories, including a lanyard, so you can keep the reader close during a trade show or anytime you’re on the go. It costs $99.99.
- Mobile Card Reader: PayPal’s mobile card reader connects via a headphone jack. While you can still take payments securely with this device, we don’t recommend it. You won’t be able to utilize chip card data, which offers higher layers of protection over card data and fraud prevention. For only a few dollars more (or for free if your PayPal Here account is new), you can get the Chip and Swipe Reader, which is, by far, preferred for security and usability. The Mobile Card Reader costs $19.99.
PayPal Here also supports register setups with tablet stands, receipt printers, and barcode scanners. Receipt printers depend on which OS you’re using. 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 Apple and Android users, your device’s camera acts as a barcode scanner.
PayPal Here Supported Devices
PayPal Here is compatible with a wide variety of Android and Apple devices. The requirements vary from one system to the next. Check out the list of supported devices on the PayPal site to see if yours is included.
PayPal offers some great choices in mobile readers as well as add-on accessories, but we have spotted some improvements that could add value. So PayPal Here earns a good rating in the products and services category. There’s not much to complain about here!
PayPal Here Fees & Rates
PayPal does a great job 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 only using PayPal Here, though, this is what you can expect to pay:
- Swiped Transactions: 2.7% per transaction
- Manually Entered Or Scanned Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- PayPal Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
- International Fees: You can accept non-US cards for the standard 2.7% per swipe plus a 1.5% cross-border fee and/or 2.5% currency conversion
- Discounted Rate For Eligible Charities (Only Online): 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction
You won’t see any:
- Monthly/annual fees
- PCI compliance fees
- Setup fees
- Equipment fees
You won’t find 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 end up paying less for American Express transactions with PayPal, but you might pay a little bit more for some kinds of Visa and Mastercard transactions than you would with a different merchant account. In addition, it’s worth noting that PayPal Here rates are comparable to many of its closest competitors, such as Square and PayAnywhere.
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 and how PayPal Here fees compare to other options, check out our complete guide to credit card processing rates and fees.
The other 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. We recommend that every merchant understand how to prevent them in the first place. Check out our article on how to avoid merchant account holds, freezes, and terminations to learn more about how to protect your account and minimize chargebacks.
Because PayPal offers easy-to-understand rates, doesn’t charge hidden fees, and the fees themselves are fair, the company has earned an excellent score in this category.
Paypal Here Transaction Limits
PayPal does not specify any particular thresholds for transaction amounts. However, the user agreement does include language that allows PayPal to hold funds at its own discretion to minimize risk. This remains a sore point for merchants using PayPal as well as other third-party processing services, so we recommend that you take the time to read over the user agreement. (More on that later).
The closest we can get to any specified PayPal Here transaction limits is actually a disclaimer in the PayPal Here shop, on the card readers page. Tucked in a footnote, you’ll find the following text:
*Key-in and swipe transactions over certain monetary thresholds may be subject to an automatic reserve, in which funds will be temporarily held in your PayPal account to cover the high risk of fraud associated with these transactions. While held, these funds will be unavailable to you. For increased protection from fraud and to reduce the likelihood of funds being held, we recommend using a chip or contactless card reader. All PayPal accounts are subject to policies that can lead to account holds, limitations, or reserves. See the PayPal User Agreement for additional information.
This disclaimer is actually an update from the original language. The initial statement said that any keyed-in transactions or sales made with the Mobile Card Reader exceeding $500 in a week-long period would automatically be held in a 30-day reserve. The new language is much broader and doesn’t affect just users with the basic PayPal magstripe reader; anyone who primarily swipes cards or keys the transaction in could face this hold.
The main takeaway here is that PayPal Here strongly encourages its users to get a chip card reader (remember, it’s free for new users) and to avoid keying in transactions if possible. Any large transactions in particular should be handled with the chip reader or paid by invoice to avoid a hold.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
PayPal is a third-party payments processor, which means it aggregates accounts as opposed to creating individual merchant accounts for each business. This model makes signing up more accessible since approval is also a simpler process with fewer hoops to jump through. Most merchants can sign up and start processing on the same day. As far as additional fees, you won’t face any added monthly costs or early termination fees with PayPal Here.
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 the approval. Merchants who don’t get approved are understandably upset. However, PayPal usually doesn’t offer any information about why.
We’ve seen some of the smaller mobile processors (and even some larger payment companies) start implementing a non-activity fee. This fee can be yet another added expense for a seasonal or dormant business. PayPal doesn’t have any stipulations or surprise fees if you become inactive for a month or even more than a year.
While these are all great things about PayPal Here, you’ll still be signing a contract, so take the time to understand what you’re signing. Before you sign any user agreement, no matter the provider, make sure you read all of the fine print, as this holds all of the information you need about fees, security, usage, and more. All in all, we are happy to give PayPal an excellent rating in this category because of the freedom it gives you to change your mind or scale when needed. It’s a win-win!
Sales & Advertising Transparency
As we said in our main PayPal review, sales and advertising are incredibly upfront. You’ll find all of PayPal’s rates in plain sight, so there’s no hidden agenda or bait and switch to worry about. Most of its business comes directly from the website from existing PayPal users or via referrals. That’s the way business should be done, in my opinion. PayPal has managed to solve a problem so well it doesn’t need to use tricks of the tongue or too-good-to-be-true quotes that lure you into signing up.
As far as PayPal Here goes, 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 you can get the basic card readers in some stores. There’s a couple of web pages devoted to PayPal Here on the main website (including pages dedicated to each PayPal chip card reader), but it doesn’t have its own site. “PayPalHere.com” redirects to the PayPal site.
That about covers the gamut for advertising and marketing. Everything is upfront and easy to understand, which is why PayPal earns an excellent rating in this category.
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: The PayPal Community space has over 2 million members with millions of posts and over a thousand people online at any time. You can ask any question here and likely get a quick response. However, keep in mind that PayPal doesn’t guarantee the answers here. You’ll find a dedicated spot for business owners called the PayPal Merchant Community, with subsections on merchant products and services, business tools, reporting, managing risk and fraud, and more. It seems to be an effective space to share ideas, frustrations, and solutions with an easy-to-search knowledgebase.
- Help Center: You can search and find answers for issues, including password and account access, account setup, payments-specific matters, such as holds and declines, as well as other how-tos.
- Phone/Email: PayPal’s phone support is notoriously inconsistent and why it gets a fair rating in this category. If you have an account-related issue, you’ll have to call. 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 a support Twitter account where PayPal will field your service and support questions.
The biggest ding in my book as far as PayPal Here goes is the shoddy customer service via phone. When you need help, you probably don’t have time to worry about inconsistent phone service. While we love all of the ancillary support options, a company as large as PayPal could do better, so it gets a fair rating in this category.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
There aren’t too many PayPal Here reviews out there, as the service doesn’t typically get specific attention from review sites. And, 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. The best information about PayPal Here actually comes from the app store reviews, not the BBB or even RipOff Report.
The one concern that you should take to heart is this:
- Withheld Funds, Freezing Of Accounts, & Termination Of Accounts: As a third-party processor, PayPal is an aggregator, which means there’s an inherent amount of account instability. You can get set up almost right away, but PayPal analyzes your processing habits to make sure you’re not too much of a risk. Upticks in processing volume and other red flags may trigger an account review, followed by a hold/reserve, a freeze, or even an account termination. But that’s ultimately the risk of using an aggregator, so complaints about PayPal holding funds aren’t exactly unique. (You’ll find these with Square, too.) We recommend that merchants learn how to avoid holds, freezes, and terminations by reading our blog post on the subject.
Other consistent complaints about PayPal Here include:
- Inconsistent Customer Service: Much like Square, PayPal’s customer support is designed to solve most problems efficiently with minimal human interaction. You probably don’t need to talk to a person to troubleshoot a lot of issues you might encounter. However, for some things, you’re going to need to speak to someone. 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.
- Glitches & Syncing Issues: Not surprisingly, 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 works perfectly with the app. We’ve also seen a few reports of merchants citing connectivity issues related to the physical devices syncing correctly.
That’s really about it for complaints. Want to understand more about how we rate companies and how your comments come into play? Check out our articles about our rating and scoring system as well as 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 and Apple iTunes.
To be sure, there are negative reviews (mostly relating to those glitches I mentioned). But the ratings for the app are overall positive: 4.5 stars on more than 40,000 ratings in Google Play and 4.6 stars for nearly 8,000 ratings in Apple’s App Store.
From what I’ve read online and learned from talks with PayPal Here users, these are the most praise-worthy features:
- Quick Funding & 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: The PayPal chip card readers are well designed and affordable.
- Easy-To-Use App: The PayPal Here app is intuitive and easy to understand, even to someone who may not be familiar with taking mobile payments.
- 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, because PayPal integrates everything seamlessly. You won’t need to run reports from different sources to compare 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.
Overall, the reviews in the app stores for PayPal Here are very positive, which indicates a well-designed app with good features. PayPal earns a good rating as a whole in the user review category.
PayPal Here FAQ
PayPal may have some shortcomings when compared to traditional merchant account providers (namely, spottier customer service and a greater risk of account holds and terminations), and it doesn’t quite match up to the value of Square. Still, PayPal Here has everything most new and mid-sized businesses need to take payments on the go. Traditional brick-and-mortar shops with minimal hardware needs will also find a lot to like here.
We can wholeheartedly recommend PayPal’s mobile card reader to anyone interested in standalone, pay-as-you-go processing. PayPal Here gets a robust 4 stars for its ease of use, great hardware, transparency, and overall dependability. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s undoubtedly among the top mPOS apps on the market today.
If you already have an online store or you’re looking to start one, PayPal a lot to offer in this area. Check out our full PayPal review for a thorough rundown of the company’s online credit card processing and the other myriad tools in PayPal’s payments arsenal.
Before making a final decision, however, you may want to check out some of your other options to compare features and decide what’s best for your particular business type. To that end, our payment processing reviews are a great place to start. Consumer Affairs, Google Reviews, and the Better Business Bureau are also good places to check. Checking up on reviews can clue you into any ongoing issues as well as how the company responds to those issues.
Once you’re ready to absorb more information, 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. And if you just hate PayPal for whatever reason, have a look at the top PayPal alternatives for businesses.
Have you used PayPal Here? How do you like it? Please leave us a comment with your input! We love to hear from our readers about their experiences using the products we review. We can also help you answer any questions you might still have.
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.