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. In some cases, you need 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:
- Square: Best overall (and free) credit card reader for iPhone
- Payanywhere: Best for food trucks and small restaurants
- Clover Go: Best for connecting an existing merchant account
- Payment Depot: Best for B2B and high-volume sales
- PayPal Zettle: Best for solopreneurs and PayPal users
Best Credit Card Readers for iPhone Compared
Our Rating (out of 5)
Basic card reader cost
$99 (also does NFC)
$99 (also does NFC)
$79 (also does NFC)
2.6% + 10¢
2.7% + 10¢
Interchange + 7¢ to 15¢
2.29% + 9¢
3.5% + 15¢
3.49% + 19¢
3.5% + 10¢
Interchange + 7¢ to 15¢
3.49% + 9¢
Depends on account
Phone support hours
9 a.m.-9 p.m. Eastern time
8 a.m.-9 p.m. Eastern time
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Looking for something different? Square is our top recommendation for iPhone card readers, but if you want an alternative, see our list of the best Square competitors.
Square: Best Overall Credit Card Reader for iPhone
Square offers competitive rates with no monthly fees or upfront costs, yet it provides reliability, security, and cutting-edge features, making it the best overall credit card reader for the iPhone. While it can be more expensive than other providers for small-ticket sales, Square makes up for this with top-notch chargeback support, a suite of business management tools, and scalable hardware should you need a full-fledged register in the future. You’ll find Square on our lists of best credit card apps, best credit card payment app for Android, best credit card readers, and best mobile credit card processors, usually in the top slot.
With rates of 2.6% + 10 cents, Square’s transaction pricing is second only to Clover as the most expensive on our list. However, it makes up for that with a truly powerful free POS system and inexpensive card readers, plus no monthly fees. The keyed-in rate is comparable to the others on the list. If pricing is more important, consider PayPal Zettle or—if you do high-volume sales—Payment Depot, which offers interchange-plus pricing for a monthly fee.
$10, first one free
Available with lightning or audio jack input. Accepts payments via magstripe (swiped).
Connects via Bluetooth. Accepts payments via EMV (chip) or NFC (Apple Pay, Google Pay).
Portable card machine. Accepts payments via EMV (chip) or NFC (Apple Pay, Google Pay).
Square also has standalone payment terminals, cash drawers, and receipt printers.
Square tops the charts with 4.63 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. In addition, if you expand and find yourself needing payroll, scheduling, or other software, Square has these as well. Its lowest score came from the fact that 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. Payanywhere comes close in range of features, but Square is superior.
- Business management: Square comes with 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, as this will 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 275,000 ratings. (SwipeSimple only has 4,400+). It ranks No. 28 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: 4.68 out of 5 on third-party software review sites and 4.67 on average for mobile (Android and iOS). Ease of use, flexibility, and price are the most praised features.
What Square Is Missing
- Confined to Square: The other credit card readers on our list offer merchant accounts (like Clover) or integrate as a payment system with other payment channels (like PayPal). Square is self-contained.
- Customer support and user reviews: 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.
Payanywhere: Best for Food Trucks and Restaurants
Payanywhere’s POS system offers great tools for food services—from food trucks and hot dog stands to sit-down restaurants—such as split payments and delivery service integrations. This makes it a strong competitor against Square in this arena. With free employee scheduling and time-tracking, it’s a strong app for managing employees. The percentage-only card processing fee is especially good for small-ticket transactions. Payanywhere also made our lists of best credit card apps and best credit card readers.
Payanywhere charges a flat rate of 2.69% for credit card transactions, which makes it great for businesses that sell inexpensive items. For example, if your average transaction size is $10, Payanywhere will save you about 25% in processing fees compared to Square, which charges 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. The keyed-in processing fees are more expensive than most, however.
Payanywhere also sells smart terminals and a POS system, plus accessories.
We gave Payanywhere 4.35 out of 5 stars. It topped the charts for mobile features, and scored very high for price and payment processing. Like Square, it lost points for not having 24/7 customer service, and it has fewer integrations than other card reader services on our list, such as PayPal.
- Restaurant features: Payanywhere’s app lets you split payments, have open tabs, and request tips. It also integrates with delivery systems like GRUBBRR. It’s a strong competitor to Square, even Square for Restaurants. Plus, snack stands and food trucks will appreciate the pricing, which favors small tickets, and the offline mode which makes it easy to take card payments anywhere.
- Employee management: Payanywhere is the only app on our list that includes not only time tracking but employee scheduling. In addition, Payanywhere offers hiring tools through Homebase at no extra charge. It’s a terrific feature if you run a high-turnover business.
- Next-day payout: Payanywhere has next-day funding with a 10 p.m. cutoff time, or you can ask for the same-day funding option that has a 10:30 a.m. cutoff time and deposits your late-night transactions later that day. (Saturday and Sunday deposits will appear on Mondays.) This is the fastest turnaround of the systems on our list—plus it’s free.
- Mobile app: As of the time of this writing, Payanywhere has 3.9 out of 5 stars on the Apple App store with more than 500 reviews. The main complaint seemed to be with the card reader not connecting to the app, forcing users to key in the credit card information and pay a higher rate. For a more stable connection, try Clover.
What Payanywhere Is Missing
- Inactivity fee: Payanywhere charges $3.99 per month for accounts that are not active for 12 months. No other service on our list has this charge. If you do occasional sales, PayPal or Square are better options.
- Potential surprise fees: Payanywhere says it has no hidden fees. However, users have complained of finding surprise fees on their bills or having extra fees taken out of their accounts without notice. It does have a paid plan with a monthly fee. Watch your transactions.
Clover Go: Best for Connecting an Existing Merchant Account
Clover makes popular and versatile POS hardware that works with a wide range of POS software and payment processors. Hundreds of companies sell Clover terminals or give them as part of their packages. The Clover Go app also works with multiple merchant services. It does not include a POS system, but does have some basic inventory and pricing capabilities. As such, we recommend it for merchants already using Clover or that already have a Clover-compatible merchant account. It’s also a good fit for service industries that need basic credit card processing and is on our list for best mobile credit card apps, along with Square and PayPal.
Clover Go Pricing
We used Fiserv, which owns Clover, for our price comparisons. Read our Fiserv review for more details about this merchant service, which we don’t recommend for small businesses. Fiserv charges $9.95 to $39.95 per register per month for the POS system. The transaction processing rates are the highest on the list, just above Square’s.
Don’t like these prices, but like the app and Clover system? Clover works with hundreds of resellers, so you can shop for a better deal. Check our list of best merchant services and best credit card processors. Even though the app is free, some merchant services require you to purchase plans in order to use Clover Go. VizyPay, for example, requires you to purchase its Pro Service Plan.
Connects via Wi-Fi and accepts payments via magstripe (swipe), EMV (chip), and NFC contactless payments (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay).
Clover also has standalone payment terminals, handheld payment terminals, cash drawers, and receipt printers.
Clover Go Features
Clover Go earned a respectable 4.23 out of 5 stars on our rubric. Like PayPal, it did not get a perfect score in any category, but ranked high in all of them except mobile features. The lack of point-of-sale features on its iPhone app took its score down significantly.
- Choice of merchant services: This is a double-edged sword. Clover’s deals with resellers means you can shop around for a merchant service that best meets your needs. Some even supply free POS software, free Clover hardware, free virtual terminals, and more. If you work in a high-risk industry, you may find a Clover dealer that can accommodate you. (None of the products on this list support high-risk industries.) However, you need to choose carefully, because once you program Clover POS hardware to a merchant service, you cannot reprogram it.
- Customer support and user reviews: Phone, chat, and email support are available 24/7. Users rate the POS system at 4.7 out of 5 stars, although recent reviews show complaints that the latest update is buggy.
- Mobile app: As I write this, Clover Go has two versions for Apple. Clover Go G1 earned 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Apple App store with about 5,600 reviews. Clover Go G2 also earned 4.7 with 11,200+ reviews. This is one of the highest-rated apps; however, it does not have POS functions like a cash register menu. The reviews are hot or cold, and many are against the payment processor rather than the app itself.
What Clover Go Is Missing
- POS on the app: The iPhone/iPad app itself does not have a POS system. It does offer the ability to create inventory, including special pricing and some variations, calculate taxes, send receipts, and more. If you have a small inventory, this might be enough.
- Potential for a bad merchant account: Clover does not police its resellers, so be cautious about what merchant account you choose, or you could end up with hidden fees and fines for breaking your contract early. While Clover Go is free, you must have Clover itself, which often comes with monthly fees or contract obligations. Square and PayPal are the best obligation-free choices.
- Microbusiness capability: Clover can be more expensive and difficult than a solopreneur, hobbyist, or microbusiness wants or needs. For a simple app, consider Square, Zettle, or Payanywhere.
Payment Depot: Best for B2B and High-volume Sales
As a traditional merchant account provider, Payment Depot has some of the lowest credit card processing fees available, especially if your average sale is over $25. With Level 2 and 3 processing, it’s an alternate on our list for B2B payments. 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 Pricing
Payment Depot offers three plans. They all provide the same features, but the difference lies in how much you can process per month and the rates:
- Starter (up to $50,000 per month in sales): $79 per month, with interchange +15 cents
- Membership (up to $150,000 per month in sales): $99 per month, with interchange +10 cents
- Enterprise ($300,000 + per month in sales): $199 per month, with interchange +7 cents
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, which fold the interchange rate into their higher transaction rates.
Payment Depot/SwipeSimple Hardware
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.
Connects via Bluetooth and accepts payments via magstripe (swipe), EMV (chip), and NFC contactless payments (Apple Pay, Android Pay).
Payment Depot offers Clover, Dejavoo, and Ingenico readers and POS systems.
Payment Depot/SwipeSimple Features
Payment Depot earned 4.14 out of 5 stars overall in our evaluation. It got full marks for payment types and mobile features and was a strong competitor for pricing. It’s lowest score was in account features, particularly its support hours and options.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mobile app: As of this writing, SwipeSimple ties with Square for highest rated app, with 4.8 out of 5 stars. 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.
- 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’s. Other apps like PayPal have numerous complaints about customer service.
What Payment Depot Is Missing
- Chargeback policy: Unlike Square and Payanywhere, Payment Depot does not have a simplified chargeback dispute process. It also charges a nonrefundable $15 chargeback fee.
- Not good 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 and Payanywhere.
PayPal Zettle: Best for Solopreneurs, Hobbyists, and Crafters
Don’t get us wrong: Zettle works fine for stores with simple inventory needs. Like Square, it’s on our lists for best credit card apps, best credit card payment app for Android, and best mobile credit card processors. For this specific 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.) The Zettle POS app is simple but powerful, and PayPal is a widely popular payment system that handles all kinds of payments from credit cards to bitcoin, and even cross-border payments. Combined with PayPal’s other payment options, it’s also a good choice for those who do multichannel sales with the occasional in-person transaction.
PayPal Zettle Pricing
Zettle’s software is completely free, and it does not charge for premium plans. PayPal Zettle rates are among the lowest for payment processors: 2.29% + 9 cents for card-present transactions, and 3.49% + 9 cents for keyed-in transactions. The only way to get better rates is with interchange-plus pricing like Payment Depot, but that comes with a monthly fee. Chargeback fees are $20, which is competitive among those that charge.
PayPal Zettle Hardware
PayPal also offers complete POS systems.
PayPal Zettle Features
PayPal earned 4.08 out of 5 on our rubric, which is less than PayPal Here, its earlier POS version, had earned on our list. (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. It is well-regarded in Europe, where it’s been in wide use before its 2018 purchase by PayPal.
- 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 I write this, Zettle has 3.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple App store with about 35 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 Payanywhere or 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.
- Limited 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.
- Reputation for held 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, or for smaller-scale needs, Payanywhere, which still has complaints, but far fewer than PayPal.
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 they have both on the phone and that you can get extra, 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:
20% 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, e-checks, and stored payments for repeat customers. Square and Payment Depot got perfect scores, followed closely by Zettle.
20% of Overall Score
Does the app itself allow an offline mode in case you lose internet? Does it have POS functions and send receipts? Payanywhere and Payment Depot/SwipeSimple earned perfect scores here.
20% of Overall Score
We gave the most credit to those with 24/7 support, quick deposit times, and mobile card readers that include chip and swipe options. Clover Go had the highest score, with 4.25 out of 5, while Payment Depot was a far last with 2.25 out of 5.
20% 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.
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.