This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
If you need a mobile and easy-to-handle payment processor for on-the-go sales, many credit card readers work with iPhones and iPads. Some providers might require you to get your own merchant account, but many of the best credit card readers for iPhone can also handle credit card, touchless, and, in some cases, digital check payments right from your smartphone.
Based on our evaluation of over a dozen options, the best credit card readers for iPhones are:
- Best overall (and best free): Square
- Best for high-volume sales: Payment Depot
- Best for solopreneurs: PayPal Zettle
- Best for online businesses: Shopify
- Best for low-volume: SumUp
- Best for small mobile restaurants: Payanywhere
Best Credit Card Readers for iPhone Compared
Mobile Card Reader Cost
Payment App User Review
First reader free
2.6% + 10 cents
Interchange + 8 cents
First reader discounted to $29
2.29% + 9 cents
First reader free
iPhone Card Reader Fee Calculator
Find out how much you would pay in monthly credit card processing fees with each of our recommended credit card readers for iPhone.
Square: Best Overall Credit Card Reader for iPhone
Square offers competitive rates with no monthly fees or upfront costs. It provides reliability, security, and a suite of business management tools and scalable hardware, making it the best overall credit card reader for the iPhone. Small businesses like food trucks and cafes choose Square for its easy setup and simple payment processing rates. In addition, if you expand and find yourself needing payroll, scheduling, or other software, Square has these as well.
With rates of 2.6% + 10 cents, Square’s transaction pricing is average—not the most expensive and not the cheapest. However, what makes Square stand out is a truly powerful free point-of-sale (POS) system and inexpensive card readers, plus no monthly fees.
It tops the charts with 4.75 out of 5 stars. Its pricing, ease of use, and integration capabilities are top-notch, as is its suite of payment options, which includes a virtual terminal and invoicing. Square didn’t earn a perfect score because it does not offer 24/7 phone support.
- POS app: Square’s POS app is packed with more features than all the other solutions on our list. With Square, you can record both cash and card payments, add tips to each transaction, split sales between different payment methods, and send customer receipts via text or email. Square works offline, so you can accept card payments even without an internet connection.
- Business management: Square has additional features such as invoicing, appointment booking, employee management, and customer email marketing. Furthermore, Square integrates with many other business programs, including accounting and delivery management.
- Chargeback policy: Unlike most credit card processing services, Square does not charge extra fees when a chargeback occurs; there is only the fee from the cardholder’s bank should the dispute be unsuccessful. It will notify you of a chargeback via email and dispute it automatically should you forget or miss the deadline. It is highly recommended, however, that you add supporting documents via the Square Dashboard to improve your chances of a successful dispute.
- Mobile app: As of this writing, Square ties with SwipeSimple (Payment Depot) for best ratings on the Apple App store. It has 4.8 out of 5 stars with some 300,000 ratings. (SwipeSimple only has 4,400+). It ranks No. 34 in business in the App Store. People love the app, but hate the customer support. There are also many complaints of held funds (on our list, PayPal is the worst for this, followed by Square).
- Ease of use: Real-world users give Square high marks for customer satisfaction: 4.4 out of 5 on third-party software review sites and 4.8 for mobile iOS. Ease of use, flexibility, and price are the most praised features.
What Square Is Missing
- Flexible payment processing: The other credit card readers on our list offer merchant accounts (like Payment Depot) or integrate as a payment system with other payment channels (like PayPal). Square is self-contained.
- Round-the-clock customer support: Phone, chat, and email support are available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time. Most of the others on our list have 24/7 support.
- Lowest pricing: If low transaction fees are most important, consider PayPal Zettle or—if you do high-volume sales—Payment Depot, which offers interchange-plus pricing for a monthly fee.
Payment Depot by Stax: Best for High-volume Sales
As a traditional merchant account provider, Payment Depot by Stax has some of the lowest credit card processing fees available, especially if your average sale is over $25. All three Payment Depot plans provide the same features; the difference lies in the transaction fees. If you do high-volume or high-ticket sales, these rates can save you money over most of the flat-rate processors on our list.
Although Payment Depot requires an application and a monthly subscription fee, each account also comes with a free SwipeSimple mobile account and account stability, meaning you’re much less likely to deal with frozen or delayed funds. Payment Depot and the connected SwipeSimple app share the spotlight with other card readers on our list of best mobile credit card apps.
Payment Depot earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall in our evaluation, with full marks for payment types and mobile features. Payment Depot’s competitive pricing also contributed to its high score.
It fell behind Square because it does come with a monthly fee and doesn’t include a free credit card reader. Other factors that prevented Payment Depot from earning a perfect score include its chargeback resolution process issues and lack of a proprietary card reader and payment app.
Payment Depot by Stax Hardware
Starts at $49 (Contact Payment Depot)
Connects via Bluetooth and accepts payments via magstripe (swipe), EMV (chip), and NFC contactless payments (Apple Pay, Android Pay). It can also be used with a Windows computer using Authorize.Net’s vPOS solution.
Starts at $49 (Contact Payment Depot)
Connects via Bluetooth and accepts payments via magstripe (swipe), EMV (chip), and NFC contactless payments (Apple Pay, Android Pay).
Payment Depot by Stax Features
- Mobile app: As of this writing, SwipeSimple ties with Square as one of the highest rated apps, with 4.8 out of 5 stars with 4,400+ ratings. The highest ratings came in 2019/2020, but ratings fell in 2021 after an update. This seems typical for this kind of software. Like Clover, SwipeSimple is used by many merchant services, and there are complaints about some of them. However, most people said it worked well and was easy to use.
- Invoicing: While not part of SwipeSimple, Payment Depot allows you to email invoices to customers and receive payments. This is typical of most payment processors, but makes Payment Depot even more suited for B2B.
- Level 2 and 3 processing: If you do B2B or government sales, you can benefit from Level 2 and 3 payment processing, which lowers the interchange rates. Payment Depot works with PayTrace, which can get Level 2 and Level 3 rates on business cards. PayTrace automatically fills the data fields required to process Level 2 and Level 3 transactions, so you can enjoy the lower rates that come with these data levels. Clover may also have Level 2 processing, depending on the merchant account you choose.
- Additional business services: Your Payment Depot subscription does more than get you payment processing through the app. You also have access to business funding, free POS equipment and chargeback risk monitoring (with certain plans), and a free payment gateway for online transactions. The other services on our list offer some of these, but not all. Square and PayPal, for example, also have business funding, but not free POS equipment.
- Customer support and user reviews: Phone and email support are available 24/7, which puts it ahead of Square. Payment Depot’s support team is highly rated by customers, as is SwipeSimple. Other apps like PayPal have numerous complaints about customer service.
What Payment Depot Is Missing
- Simple chargeback dispute process: Unlike Square and Shopify, Payment Depot does not have a simplified chargeback dispute process. It also charges a nonrefundable $15 chargeback fee.
- Better pricing for low-volume merchants: If you process less than $10,000 a month in transactions, the monthly fees make this more expensive than free, flat-rate options like Square.
PayPal Zettle: Best for Solopreneurs & PayPal Users
The PayPal Zettle card reader is simple but powerful and, combined with PayPal’s ability to accept all kinds of payments—from credit cards to bitcoin and even cross-border payments, a top contender for one of the best mobile credit card processors in the market. And, while it does not offer a free device, PayPal’s reader includes a PIN pad that can process chip, tap, or swipe transactions, which is more than most free readers can do. You can get your first PayPal Zettle card reader at a discounted price of $29.
Zettle works fine for stores with simple inventory needs; however, for this list, we like Zettle best for the solopreneur or craftsman who sells their wares at conventions, craft fairs, and other part-time venues. (Square is also a great choice for this). Zettle’s software is completely free, and it does not charge for premium plans. The only way to get better rates is with interchange-plus pricing like Payment Depot, but that comes with a monthly fee.
PayPal Zettle earned 4.32 out of 5 on our rubric, which is lower than PayPal Here, its earlier POS version, had earned. (PayPal still supports Here, but does not offer it to new users.) The POS system is basic, but the lack of an offline mode for payment processing is what brought the score down. However, the software is easy to use and, like Square, is on our lists for best credit card apps and top credit card payment apps for Android.
PayPal Zettle Hardware
PayPal Zettle Features
- Great for small-scale or infrequent sales: Zettle is simple enough to learn and set up in a couple of minutes if your inventory is small. It does not charge monthly fees or require monthly use or impose contracts. You can put it away for months and use it again as if it had been a day. The charges are cheaper than most flat-rate processors and not dependent on your sales volume.
- Same-day deposits to PayPal: If you use PayPal, then Zettle gets you your money quickly as it deposits directly into PayPal each day. The other credit card readers on our list may get you your money as early as the next day, although some, like Square, charge extra for expedited deposits.
- Mobile app: As of this writing, Zettle has 3.3 out of 5 stars on the Apple App store with about 250 reviews. One of the most recent complaints is that data from PayPal Here does not carry over. Users also had problems with setup, including being unable to change the app from Spanish to English. Customer support also received complaints. For more responsive help, consider Payment Depot.
What PayPal Zettle Is Missing
- Offline mode: Zettle says it needs to be connected to a 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi to process transactions. All the other mobile card readers on our list have at least a limited offline mode.
- More integrations: While PayPal itself integrates with just about anything you can imagine, Zettle is limited to BigCommerce, QuickBooks Online, Shopify, and WooCommerce. For more variety, consider Square.
- Better policy for holding funds: PayPal ranks among the highest payment processors for complaints about held funds or canceled accounts. In addition, its customer service is often not helpful with this kind of issue. If that concerns you, then look at Payment Depot, which has very few complaints.
Shopify: Best for Online Businesses Accepting In-person Payments
Shopify is a powerhouse name for ecommerce businesses, providing its users with outstanding omnichannel tools so you can reach customers anywhere. It lets you sync online and in-person sales, process curbside and pickup orders, and start sales in-store and finish them online. These features rank Shopify among our best retail POS systems and bring it to the top of our list of multichannel POS systems.
Shopify offers one magstripe card reader that can be purchased for $29 while the other two 3-in-1 mobile credit card readers cost $49. Overall, this price range is more competitive compared to PayPal Zettle. The POS app is free; however, you need a Shopify ecommerce account ($29–$299/month) to access Shopify’s POS features. Its reporting functionality is only available from the mid-level subscription at $79 per month, which is the same monthly fee as Payment Depot, though Payment Depot offers lower transaction fees.
Based on our evaluation, Shopify earned an overall score of 4 out of 5, gaining its highest score with its wide range of payment types, and its lowest from its general merchant services features. While other providers in this list like Square and PayPal Zettle offer next-day funding with optional same-day fund transfer for a fee, Shopify requires two business days to give you access to your funds.
(Available for rental)
Accept chip or swipe credit card payments from customers. Included in Shopify retail bundle rental and as an add on through Fello.
Bluetooth-enabled, 2-in-1 EMV certified mobile card reader
EMV-certified mobile card reader that can process tap, chip and swipe payments and is fully integrated with Shopify POS.
- Omnichannel selling: Shopify provides a seamless shopping experience for your in-store and online customers. You can design QR codes that open product pages from their mobile device while they browse in-store and email carts that allow them to complete their in-store purchase online. Shopify helps you accept returns or exchanges of online purchases at retail outlets. You can also sell from wherever stock is available and then send it out to the customer when in-store inventory is low.
- Order and product management: With Shopify’s Smart Inventory, you can use a barcode scanner to receive inventory and conduct physical counts, as well as request and track stock transfers. You can also create and manage purchase orders from your Shopify POS platform. It provides advanced reporting and analytics features to suggest which items are worth ordering and which are slow-moving.
- Mobile app: The Shopify POS app earned an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple App store from over
- as a solid, dependable app with flexible features. However, the most recent feedback, even from those who have given the platform high ratings, is that recent updates to design and user interface are less favorable. It’s important to note, however, that developers are quick to respond to every complaint, with suggestions and guides on how to improve user experience.
What Shopify Is Missing
- Free mobile credit card reader: While its chip and swipe reader is free, it is not the most recommended for mobile credit card processing. Users will need to purchase a mobile credit card reader for $49 to start accepting payments on the go. For a free mobile card reader, consider Square.
- Better offline payment capability: Without internet connection, you can only use Shopify to accept cash and digital wallet payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. You will not be able to process credit card and gift card payments while offline. Consider Square, Payment Depot, or Clover for better offline payment functionality.
SumUp: Best for Small In-person Businesses With Low-volume Ticket Sales
SumUp is a mobile-first payment processor that comes with a virtual terminal and basic inventory management features built for small businesses. It does not charge any monthly fees or tie you up in a long-term contract, making SumUp one of the most affordable merchant services providers in the industry. However, it does not support ecommerce integration, so the system is more ideal for small in-person businesses with low-volume ticket sales.
Its fully mobile payment processing service stands out among the rest of providers in our list. And, while it carries the most expensive in-person transaction rate, SumUp offers a better range of credit card readers that support features such as standalone functionality, keypad security, and touch-screen technology. It also supports POS features such as employee and management tools in its mobile payment app.
SumUp earned a score of 3.98 out of 5, a significant improvement from our previous round of evaluation after it launched upgraded card readers. It fared well for its overall mobile features, with reliable mobile app functionality and the ability to provide small and micro businesses easy access to all types of credit card payment methods.
Meanwhile, the lack of multichannel features, business hours-only support availability, and poor mobile app user rating prevented SumUp from earning a better score.
- Two-step Sign-up: Getting a merchant account only takes minutes with SumUp two-step sign-up. Request your card reader during sign-up and receive it within three to four business days.
- SumUp Dashboard: SumUp allows you to process payments, create and manage invoices and access reports from the dashboard.
- Application Programming Interface (API) and Software Development Kit (SDK) Integrations: SumUp is supported by a host of API and SDKs that allow for custom features such as accepting international payments and adding user interface screens for customers of different business models
- Payout Features: Process daily payouts daily and track the transfer progress from your dashboard at no extra cost. SumUp also provides you with daily and monthly payout reports. Customer support can be requested to update the payout frequency.
- Inventory Management: SumUp’s mobile app includes a product catalog that provides you with basic inventory management tools such as adding products, categories, and variants, and assigning sales tax rates. A step-by-step guide helps you build your catalog.
- POS App: The SumUp App not only allows you to accept payments and create and send payment links and invoices, but it also supports a point-of-sale function that includes a product catalog, smart tipping, tax setting, refund issuing, and employee management tools. Basic pre-made reports, such as revenue, payout, and transaction reporting, are also available. Your monthly payment processing fee for using SumUp can also be found here.
What SumUp Is Missing
- Multichannel sales: While it allows you to accept payments through invoice, SumUp does not provide options for ecommerce integration so it’s not the most viable option for businesses looking for multichannel sales. If this is a dealbreaker for you, consider alternatives like Shopify and Square that support strong, built-in ecommerce functionality at no extra cost.
- Offline payments: SumUp does not support offline payment processing. All of its card readers require a Wi-Fi/internet connection to process transactions. Consider Square, Payment Depot, or Payanywhere for this feature.
- Business integrations: Although it provides you with reporting tools that include accounting functions for employee management, SumUp does not support integration with accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero. You will need to sign up for SumUp’s restaurant POS system if you want software and hardware integrations (and even then, it’s very limited at the moment). Consider Square for a more well-rounded payments and point-of-sale solution.
Payanywhere: Best for Low-volume Restaurants & Food Trucks
Payanywhere is an all-in-one payment processing solution that offers recurring payments and invoicing tools, inventory and employee management, and virtual terminal processing features. It also comes with a mobile app that supports restaurant-specific tools such as splitting checks, opening tabs, and tipping. This is the only provider in this list aside from Square that supports these features, making it a great choice for low-volume restaurants and food trucks.
Although limited, Payanywhere supports both 3-in-1 and 2-in-1 mobile card readers with the first one free upon signing for a merchant account. It also offers a pay-as-you-go payment plan option with no long-term contracts or monthly fees; however, there is also a fee of $3.99/month after 12 months of inactivity and a $25 chargeback fee. Custom plans with a three-year contract are also available, with likely better rates. Payanywhere’s card-present transaction fee is competitive, but is still slightly more expensive than Square.
All things considered, Payanywhere earned a total score of 3.94 out of 5. It scored well for pricing and payment types, losing points only for inactivity and for lack of ACH payment options. Limited customer support also caused Payanywhere to fall behind the other providers in our evaluation. While it provides numerous restaurant features, Payanywhere is not a full-fledged restaurant POS system but it did make our list of best credit card payment apps.
$29.95 (first is free)
Bluetooth-enabled card reader. Accepts EMV chip cards and magstripe cards. Connects via Bluetooth to your smart device or computer.
Bluetooth-enabled card reader. Accepts traditional magstripe credit cards, EMV chip cards, and NFC contactless payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
- Payment Types: Process all major credit cards with Payanywhere. You can also manage payment methods with tab splitting, invoicing, and recurring payment transactions.
- Virtual Terminal: You can connect your card reader to a desktop and accept payments through Payanywhere’s virtual terminal. The cloud-based dashboard syncs your sales records in real time with your mobile transactions.
- Mobile Payments: While limited in functionality, Payanywhere offers mobile payment processing that’s easy to learn and simple to use. It provides swipe, tap, and dip payments, as well as NFC contactless payments, including digital wallets like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
- Point-of-Sale App: Payanywhere account includes a free mobile POS app which allows you to process payments from a compatible smartphone or tablet. It comes with POS features such as inventory and employee management, and offline payment processing function that lets you accept swipe credit cards without internet connection.
- Free Same-day Funding: Payanywhere offers free same-day funding for late-night food businesses such as bars and restaurants. Cut off time is 10 p.m. but you can select the “same-day” funding option with a 10:30 a.m. cutoff.
What Payanywhere Is Missing
- ACH and E-check Payments: Payanywhere currently does not offer ACH and e-check payment options. While it does not affect your ability to accept in-person payments, this prevents you from expanding your business to other channels such as ecommerce and larger recurring payment transactions. Consider Square and SumUp for alternatives.
How We Chose the Best iPhone Credit Card Readers
The best mobile credit card processing services work with both iOS and Android, so we chose those that had the best ratings in the Apple store or were more popular in iOS. Then, we weighed them according to pricing, types of payments provided, additional features, how quickly you can access your earnings, and how well it compared to the others on the list in our evaluation and the opinion of users.
Square ranks as the best for features and price. With clear-cut pricing and no contracts, a feature-rich POS system and invoice capabilities, and easy access to your funds, it’s a strong choice for individuals and businesses of all sizes.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
25% of Overall Score
We gave the most points to payment processors that did not require contracts or monthly fees, and did not have cancellation fees or minimum requirements. Square blew the competition away with 5 out of 5.
20% of Overall Score
All processors should take swipe payments and have the ability to handle NFC (touchless) payments like Apple Pay. We also considered invoice capability, virtual terminals, echecks, and stored payments for repeat customers. Square and Payment Depot got perfect scores, followed closely by Shopify and Zettle.
25% of Overall Score
Does the app itself allow an offline mode in case you lose internet access? Does it have POS functions and send receipts? How easy is it to set up swipe, tap and chip payment methods? Only Payment Depot/SwipeSimple earned a perfect score here, followed by SumUp and Square.
20% of Overall Score
We gave the most credit to those with 24/7 support, quick deposit times, and built-in omnichannel features. We also gave points for chip and contactless mobile card readers. Payment Depot received the highest score of 4.63 out of 5, while SumUp came in last with 2.38 out of 5.
10% of Overall Score
This combined our overall evaluation of price and ease of use with scores from real-world users on trusted third-party review sites. Square earned a perfect score, but all the card readers on our list did well.
Mobile Payment Alternatives
If you’re looking for more mobile payment solutions, check out our recommendations below:
Best for: Accepting peer-to-peer payments
Best for: Processing QR code payments
Best for: Using payment links for selling anywhere
Best for: iOS users that need a digital wallet app
Monthly Cost: $0
Monthly Cost: $0
Monthly Cost: $0
Monthly Cost: $0
Transaction Fee: $0
Transaction Fee: from 1.9% + 10 cents
Transaction Fee: 2.9% + 30 cents
Transaction Fee: $0
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With COVID-19 changing how we do business, it’s important to have a way to accept payments on your mobile phone or iPad for maximum flexibility. The credit card readers we considered not only provide multiple ways to accept on-the-go payments but many have virtual terminals and online options to help.
Overall, for versatility and price, Square is our top choice. It can be a little more expensive if you have small transactions, but it’s good for the occasional user or the regular business and can grow with you. Download the Square app and sign up for an account today.