PayPal Here Review
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- Date Established
- San Jose, CA
PayPal Here (PPH) launched 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.
If you’ve used eBay, chances are you’ve used PayPal. And if you haven’t used eBay, you probably don’t own a computer. (Or you shop on Amazon.)
Seriously, though — PayPal has 192 million active accounts and 8 million merchants using its processing services. The company is massive, and merchant payment processing only makes up one part of the overall business.
But within its merchant services division, the company offers a comprehensive suite of services, from the mobile POS app (of course) and online card processing to business financing, POS partnerships and other integrations, 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 also pertains to its Paypal Here mobile processing service.
It’s worth noting that as of July 2015, Paypal is no longer part of the eBay, Inc. corporate family. Since then, it’s really struck out on its own, and I am genuinely excited to see the ways that PayPal will continue to shape and re-shape the payments space — and digital wallets, for that matter.
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 is an easy experience. While you’ll need a PayPal Business or Premier account to use PPH, the upgrade from a personal account comes free of charge and happens automatically as part of the sign-up process.
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, and it can be supplemented with a huge assortment of integrations and tools. It even supports a register setup for those who don’t need advanced POS capabilities.
I generally feel that PayPal Here has long held a slight edge over Square in terms of account stability, which is no small thing. It’s also without question one of the most functional, best-designed mobile point-of-sale options for merchants of all sizes. If you are more broadly looking for a commerce solution that includes an mPOS, PayPal is definitely one of the best, and probably the best, solution out there.
I’m completely comfortable giving PayPal Here 4 stars for now. If the company could work on improving a couple of very important aspects of its service, we’d consider bumping up that rating — but not before we see signs of progress.
Check out the full review for more information, and please leave a comment with your thoughts or experiences about PayPal Here!
Products and 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 offers all of the basic features you’d expect from a mobile POS, plus some nice surprises. I seriously love how easily it integrates with the rest of PayPal’s features. Whether you sell online, in a store, on the go, or a combination thereof, PayPal has a solution that works — and loads of partnerships to boot.
As far as PPH is concerned, here’s the feature rundown:
- Mobile credit and debit processing: Accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express cards. You can even accept cross-border cards for an additional fee.
- Free mobile app: Available for Android, iOS, and even Windows 8.1 devices (more on that later)
- Custom tax and tip options: This is pretty standard for any mPOS app. You can set your tax rates from within the mobile app or online, too. The tip feature lets you add optional tips to each order and even suggest a number by percentage or dollar amounts.
- Discounts: PayPal Here supports the option to add discounts at checkout if you’re having a sale.
- Item library or quick sales: You can simply punch in a transaction amount and swipe away, or you can keep meticulous records by creating an item library. PayPal Here will store your inventory, complete with prices, so you can simply select the item instead of having to total up sales yourself.
- Item variants: PayPal Here also lets you create item variants for different colors and sizes — and you can set different prices for those variants.
- 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).
- Free audio jack swiper: 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/contactless reader: Accept chip-and-PIN, NFC and magstripes with Paypal’s Bluetooth chip card reader. It will cost you $149, but if you process more than $3,000 within 3 months after activation, Paypal will reimburse you $100. That’s admittedly a high price compared to most of the other mobile readers on the market, but bear in mind that NFC support and the pin pad are almost certainly driving the price up. You can also get a $100 rebate if you process $3,000 through PayPal Here within 3 months.
- Manage multiple users under one account: 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, and unlike Square, the system is compatible with multiple tablet stands.
- Hardware integration with other POS systems: If PayPal Here isn’t sufficient for your POS needs, you can integrate your PayPal account — and use the PayPal Here chip card reader — with a handful of more robust platforms, including Vend.
- 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.
- Cash and check recording: Manage all of your payments in one place with the ability to log cash and check payments. There’s even a QuickBooks integration.
- 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 — or less, if you have a volume discount. Being able to do this in-app is a major plus.
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.
I can’t stress again how much I love the seamless experience. You can easily sell online and sell in person and all of your money goes to the same place right away.
What’s New in PayPal Here:
I’ve been itching to see what new features PayPal Here will roll out since the split from eBay but so far I’ve been disappointed. The company seems to be focusing on strategic partnerships in other areas of commerce. Admittedly, developing new features can take time — but I’d like to see something new or improved about the app in the near future.
What’s Missing in PayPal Here:
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. Intuit’s new iPad-based QuickBooks POS also has a feature that allows you to process payments without Internet access, but otherwise I have not seen it widely implemented.
It might seem like internet access today would be a given, so why would you ever need a feature that lets you process without it? Well, sometimes outages happen. And sometimes you find yourself in a space without either Wi-Fi or cell signal. Convention centers in particular are notorious for blocking external Wi-Fi. Often the cellular networks and public Wi-Fi networks are congested and slow just because there are so many people in a relatively confined space. For artists, crafters, and other makers of handmade goods who sell at shows, this is a
For artists, crafters, and other makers of handmade goods who sell at shows, this is a huge problem. For these merchants, and many other small startups, a pay-as-you-go mobile service is the best (or sometimes only) option — they don’t have the money to shell out for a hardline internet connection or phone line at an event like larger businesses can afford to do. (These services can run hundreds of dollars depending on the venue and length of the event, not counting the addition of electricity to power a computer, register, or card terminal, among other electronic devices.)
While you are left eating the cost for any offline transactions that are declined using Square’s Offline Mode, I’ve personally not had a problem with it. But this may vary by the event, your customer base, and even your industry. And it’s entirely up to you whether you even want to use offline processing. I would love to see PayPal Here integrate this feature.
What else is missing from PayPal Here? Well, a better inventory system would be nice. Right now you can create a library of items and run sales reports but 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).
Square has a decent inventory system feature, and even Etsy’s reader has it, so this feels a bit lacking to me.
At this point, there’s a substantial number of devices supporting PayPal Here, which is a major advantage. Your device is going to need a 3.5 mm headphone jack if you’re using the magstripe swiper, or Bluetooth enabled if you’re using the chip card reader. You’ll also need internet support (cellular or Wi-Fi), and location services enabled. Here’s what you need to know about compatibility:
iOS: PayPal Here is compatible with iPhones and iPads running iOS 7.0 or later.
Android: Smartphones and tablets must be running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with location services enabled.
Windows: Smartphones and tablets must be running Windows 8.1. Compatibility with Windows devices is slightly less widespread, as you might imagine, but here are some of the supported devices:
- Surface Pro 3, 2, and RT
- HP Elitepad 1000
- Asus Vivotab Note 8
- Dell Venue Pro 8
- Nokia Lumia 1520
- Nokia Lumia 830
- Nokia Lumia 635
- Nokia Lumia 630
- Nokia Lumia 520
- BLU Win HD
Fees and 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. Now, if you need more features (such as a full e-commerce setup to go with your mobile reader), you might want to look at PayPal Payments Pro — that’ll run you $30 a month.
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 offering. 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 and Early Termination Fee:
You are completely free to close your PayPal account anytime or to simply cease using the PPH app for processing and keep your PayPal account for online transactions. You won’t find any early termination fees or stipulations in your merchant agreement. Considering the industry standard is a three-year agreement with a $300-$400 early termination fee, I’m pretty satisfied with PayPal in this category. 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.
Sales and 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 through 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. There’s no deceptive practices or too-good-to-be-true offers. And the company is still at the top of the game and innovating, looking for ways to improve the world of commerce.
I couldn’t ask for anything more from PayPal Here advertising. I’ll also say that PayPal is doing a great job with social media overall (though that really is more of a discussion for our full-fledged PayPal review.) You’ll find some good stories and updates on the blog (dubbed PayPal Stories). They cover a wide range of topics, reflecting the incredibly diverse nature of PayPal’s business.
However, there’s not a lot of PayPal Here-specific information beyond the sales pages, the help center, and a few YouTube tutorials like this one.
That said, PayPal Here is fairly intuitive. If you’re familiar with smartphones at all, you should be able to work the app from the get-go. You don’t need a full training course. Just read up on what features are available if you plan on doing anything other than punching in numbers and swiping a card.
Customer Service and 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:
- Quick Answers
- Resource Center
- Community Forum
- Phone/Email: (Mon-Fri 5 a.m.-8 p.m. PST, Sat/Sun 6 a.m.-6 p.m. PST). Judging from the online chatter (see “Negative Reviews and Complaints”), PayPal’s phone support is very inconsistent. My advice is to avoid calling if at all possible. Answers to most common problems can be found with just a little bit of searching. Between the community forum, quick answers section, and resource center, you should be able to find a solution.
PayPal is also very active on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. It even has an @AskPaypal Twitter account where reps will field your service and support questions, and post updates relating to service uptime.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t have a separate BBB account for its PayPal Here processing, so we’re stuck wading through the 6,360 complaints (up from 6,135 at our last check-in) filed in the last three years on PayPal’s main account. It’s got an A+ rating, but the majority of the 90+ reviews on the BBB are negative.
That’s an enormous number of complaints, no doubt about it. But when you actually start reading the responses, you’ll be impressed. PayPal responds to each concern in a very professional and complete manner, almost always giving refunds even when they don’t have any obligation to.
Another issue is that unlike traditional merchant account providers, PayPal is also a consumer-facing business. The overwhelming majority of complaints come from users who have had issues with eBay sellers, problems with their accounts and fraud, and any number of other concerns that have nothing to do with processing credit cards. The complaints against PayPal don’t all come from merchants. So don’t let the numbers fool you. BBB complaints aren’t indicative of PayPal Here’s mobile app or indeed PayPal for Businesses.
There are plenty of complaints about PayPal on RipoffReport.com, but nothing for PayPal Here, for those of you wondering. And as with the BBB, a lot of the RipoffReport.com complaints are from consumers, not necessarily merchants.
The one concern that you should definitely take to heart is this:
- Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts: The biggest challenge with any pay-as-you-go processor is that at any time PayPal could decide your account is at a higher risk for fraud of suspicious charges and take all sorts of actions, from holding your funds and implementing a reserve to outright terminating your account. This does happen to merchants, and it’s understandably terrible — no one wants their money trapped in limbo, or to lose their means of accepting credit card payments. However, I generally believe PayPal Here is the most stable third-party processing app out there. It is not perfect, but it does very well.
If you think that your business falls into the high-risk category, then you should know it’s possible PayPal may withhold some of your funds or even freeze or shut your account down. It may be best to go with a high-risk processor like Durango Merchant Services or Payline Data instead. You can also learn how to avoid holds, freezes, and terminations here.
Which brings me to another concern:
- Inconsistent customer service: Much like Square, PayPal’s customer support is designed to efficiently solve 95% of problems with minimal human interaction. When a service works with such a huge base of users, this is necessary in order to keep prices low across the board. But unfortunately that remaining 5% often represent the most pressing problems, including account-specific issues like fraud, chargebacks, funding holds, account suspensions, billing errors, and so on. When it comes dealing with these problems, merchants need to speak with a well-trained and articulate support representative. Unfortunately, judging by complaints, your ability to reach a reliable support rep is more luck of the draw than anything.
Customer support is a source of frustration for me because it’s one area where traditional merchant accounts tend to excel. For most mobile processors (and their merchants), it’s a serious pain point. Bridging that gap seems to be a nigh-impossible feat, especially because so many issues relating to customer service also seem to be tied to account stability. When third-party processors terminate an account or put a hold on it, there’s not a lot of warning — if any. And if an account is terminated, the company (PayPal included) usually doesn’t disclose exactly why.
For PayPal Here account-specific issues, you’re probably going to get on the phone and talk to someone, and it’s entirely luck of the draw whether you’ll get the issue resolved. This combination is problems is exactly what’s holding PayPal Here back from a 5-star rating — if it could deliver more consistent customer care and do something about the holds and terminations, I’d consider bumping this review (and the main PayPal review) score up by half a star.
And finally, there’s one last noteworthy complaint from PayPal Here users:
- Cost of the EMV reader: Square has an abundance of card reader options. PayPal has just its free basic magstripe reader and an EMV reader that runs $149. You’re eligible for a $100 rebate if you process $3,000 within 3 months, which is fine for mid-range merchants but a challenge for the smallest businesses — the ones who only process sporadically. That said, PayPal Here’s chip reader is a very well designed device. It’s easy to use and combines a magstripe reader, NFC reader, and EMV reader in one.
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 and Testimonials:
PayPal’s YouTube channel has also a nice video testimonial for PayPal Here, but there aren’t many others out there:
You’ll also find a lot of positive reviews on the Google Play page for PayPal Here. To be sure, there are negative reviews (mostly relating to technical issues) — but the score is overall positive: 4.3 stars on more than 25,000 ratings. And PayPal Here has a good rating on iTunes as well (4 stars over more than 3,100 ratings).
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. If you want your money instantly from Square, you’ll have to pay an additional 1% to transfer it to your bank sooner.
- Well-designed card reader: PayPal’s basic little magstripe reader is reliable and easy to use, and its chip card reader is too. The chip card reader fits in the palm of your hand and pairs via Bluetooth.
- 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.
I absolutely recommend PayPal Here to anyone interested in standalone, pay-as-you-go mobile processing. It’ll even work in a retail store so long as you don’t need a particularly complex setup.
While it has some shortcomings when compared to traditional merchant account providers (namely less stability and less reliable customer service), there’s no question that PayPal Here outperforms most other mobile payment processors.
I’ll be honest: Square has more features, including a couple that I would love to see PayPal introduce (such as inventory counts and an offline mode). But I think PayPal Here delivers slightly more stability and its customer service is absolutely comparable to Square.
And of course, PayPal definitely has the edge if you also sell online. The seamless movement between the web, mobile, and in-person, plus the widespread compatibility with all sorts of platforms and integrations for all facets of business, means that choosing PayPal (and PayPal Here) is almost a no-brainer so long as it has all the features you want.
I love the almost-instant funding to PayPal accounts, alongside the PayPal debit card for quick access to the cash virtually anywhere.
You should do your research and decide which option is best for you. You can start with our Square vs. PayPal Here article, as well as our comprehensive Square and PayPal Reviews. You can also check out our comparison of mPOS processors.
I’m completely comfortable giving PayPal Here a solid 4 stars. It’s not perfect — but it’s undoubtedly among the best in mobile processing. If PayPal could work on its customer service, and iron out some of the kinks in its holding process, that would be fantastic… and it might just be enough to bump the rating up to 4.5 or even 5 stars.
What’s your experience with PayPal Here? Good, bad, somewhere in between? If you have insights, please leave a comment!