After testing and researching the main mobile credit card processing options, there were three clear frontrunners: Square, PayPal Here, and Intuit GoPayment. In the review below, we compare the cost, functionality, ease of use, customer service, and overall value of each provider, and make our recommendation about which provider is the best for your small business.
Best Mobile Credit Card Processing: Square
We recommend Square as the best mobile credit card processing solution for small businesses because it’s easy to set up and use, has more features and third party integrations than the others, and you can be up and running in 30 minutes or less. I have also used Square for 2+ years for my personal business and have had a great experience.
Square vs. PayPal Here vs. Intuit GoPayment Summary Table
|Monthly Fee and Processing Cost|
|No Monthly Fee|
2.75% per swipe and 3.5% +15¢ per manual entry
|No Monthly Fee|
2.7% per swipe and 3.5% + 15¢ per manual entry
|2 Plans |
Plan 1: No monthly fee. 2.4% + 25¢ per swipe, 3.4% + 25¢ per manual entry
Plan 2: $19.99 per month fee. 1.6% + 25¢ per swipe, 3.2% + 25¢ per manual entry
|FREE Swipe Reader|
$49 for Chip Card (EMV) and NFC (like Apple Pay) Reader
|FREE Swipe Reader|
$149 for Chip Card and NFC Reader ($100 rebate if you process $3,000 or more in first 3 months)
|FREE Swipe Reader |
$30 for Chip Card Reader (no NFC functionality)
|Ease of Setup and Use|
|Easy to use and can be set up and accepting payments in 30 minutes or less - get started||Easy to use and can be set up and accepting payments in 30 minutes or less||Easy to use but can be more of a hassle to set up (have to sign up for a merchant account)|
|Accept payments, process credit cards, add tips, manage inventory, low-inventory alerts, manage employee permissions, and many other options (some at additional cost)||Accept payments, process credit cards, add tips, scan barcodes with device, and manage employee permissions||Accept payments, process credit cards, scan credit cards with device camera, add tips, and personalize receipts, virtual terminal, and recurring payments|
|EMV/Chip Card Ready?|
|NFC Functionality (e.g. Apple Pay)|
|Merchant Account Required?||No||No||Yes|
|Phone and Device Compatability||Apple devices with IOS 9.1 or above and Android devices with Android 4.4 or higher |
(also some receipt printers, cash registers, and barcode scanners)
Click Here for Full List of Compatible Devices
|Apple devices with IOS 7.0 or above and Android devices with Android 4.0 or above |
Click Here for More Info
|Apple devices with IOS 8.0 or above and Android devices with Android 4.0 or above |
Click here for More Info
|All major credit & debit cards, Square gift cards, and can record cash, check, and gift certificate transactions||All major credit & debit cards, and can record cash, check, and gift certificate transactions (no gift cards)||All major credit & debit cards, and can record cash and check payments (no gift certificates or gift cards)|
|How Quickly Do you Get Your Money?|
|In 1-2 business days into checking account|
Immediately for a 1% fee
|In 3-5 business days into checking account|
Immediately into PayPal account
|In 2-4 business days into checking account|
|Quickbooks, Xero, Stitch, and many more||NCR Silver, Excel, Quickbooks||QuickBooks|
|Phone Support 6a-6p M-F PST, email, Facebook, and Twitter as well as an extensive knowledge base||Phone support 4a-10p M-F PST and 6a-8p Sa/Su, email, and knowledge base||Phone support 6a-6p M-F PST and 6a-3p on Sat, email support, video tutorials, and knowledge base|
Square: Best Mobile Credit Card Processing for Small Business
Square is our recommended mobile credit card processing solution for a lot of reasons. To begin with, they charge a simple flat rate comparable to other processing rates in the industry. Also, Square is just so easy to use and setup. Most businesses can start accepting payments with Square in 30 minutes or less.
Where Square really shines is in the additional features and flexibility it gives your business. Of course, you can accept credit/debit payments and record cash and check payments as well. But, Square is the only mobile credit card processor I have seen that gives you true inventory management capability. Inventory counts are adjusted every time you sell, and you can even set up low inventory alerts, so you know when you are running out of product. The tools are basic compared to dedicated POS systems, but are still great for a mobile solution.
Lastly, Square has lots of great add-ons and integrations. For one, you can purchase and accept gift cards, which is an awesome feature. If you are willing to pay a little extra, you can get all kinds of functionality, like email marketing to customers, an employee time clock, payroll, an online appointment book, and more. And of all the mobile processing providers, Square definitely has the most integrations. You can integrate with Quickbooks (our recommended accounting software), Xero, Weebly (our recommended website builder), ShipStation, Stitch labs, and many more.
If there was a downside to Square, it would be that they have had some issues in the past with their customer service. But, their support has improved substantially in the last several years. There have also been some complaints about fund-holding and account termination, but that’s the case with most mobile credit card processing providers.
PayPal Here: Best Mobile POS if You Already Have a PayPal Account for Your Business
Although PayPal Here does not have nearly the features nor depth of functionality as Square, it can be a solid option for businesses that already have a PayPal account. If you already do much of your payment processing through PayPal and just need a super basic on-the-go solution for accepting payments, then PayPal Here will probably serve you well.
Intuit GoPayment: Best Mobile POS for Small Businesses that Use Quickbooks POS
In most cases, I wouldn’t recommend using Intuit GoPayment for your mobile credit card processing. They seem cheaper at a quick glance, but their 25¢ fee per transaction quickly adds up (click here for a comparison).
Square’s integration with Quickbooks is good, and Square is a lot easier to set up. However, if you already have a Quickbooks POS system and merchant account setup, then it might be worth using Intuit GoPayment, just to keep everything more organized and within one provider’s system.
In-Depth Review: Square vs. PayPal Here vs. Intuit GoPayment
Monthly Fee and Processing Cost
Both Square and PayPal here have no monthly cost and similar processing rates, with PayPal Here being just a tad bit cheaper. Intuit GoPayment has 2 different plans, one with a monthly cost and lower processing fees and one without any monthly cost but with higher processing fees.
A Word on Merchant Accounts
To process credit cards, there has to be a merchant account involved. Some providers, like Square and PayPal, provide both the processing equipment and merchant account for you. This means a lot less hassle. Others, like Intuit GoPayment, require you to sign up for a merchant account using their service. Although there are no additional monthly costs for Intuit’s merchant account (unless you want to opt-in to their PCI compliance plan, which is an additional $10/month), it does make it a lot harder to close your account and in rare cases, you may be subject to a $500 account termination fee (if Intuit decides your activities have breached their user policy).
So, unless you already have an Intuit Merchant Account, Square is probably a better choice. To learn more, check out our articles on How to Accept Credit Cards and Credit Card Processing Fees: How they Work.
A Quick Comparison
Intuit GoPayment’s processing rates seem lower at first glance, but the 25¢ fee is actually killer. Here’s a quick example. Let’s say your business does 250 credit card transactions in a month and makes $5,000 in sales.
Calculating Square’s costs are simple–it is just 2.75% of $5,000, which is $137.50. For Intuit (assuming you choose Plan 1), you have to factor in both the percentage and fee. So, that means you first calculate 2.4% of $5,000, which is $120. Then, you have to multiply your 250 transactions x 25¢, which means adding an additional $62.50 onto the bill. In total, you are paying $185.50 in costs with GoPayment, which is $48 more than Square.
If you go with GoPayment’s $19.99/month plan (Plan 2), the cost is actually pretty close to Square’s, at $142.50. But, if you have more transactions, your cost goes up quite a bit.
For example, If you did 500 transactions and $5,000 in monthly sales, then you pay a whopping $245 in fees to GoPayment (with Plan 1), while your Square cost stays at $137.50. Even if you go with GoPayment’s $19.99/month plan (Plan 2), you would still pay $205 in fees, almost $70 more than Square.
When it comes to hardware cost, Square and Intuit GoPayment are neck-and-neck, with PayPal Here bringing up the rear.
Ease of Setup and Use
Square and PayPal are both a breeze to setup and use. You can be processing payments in 30 minutes or less with each provider. Getting set up with Intuit GoPayment can be a much longer process, especially if you don’t already have a merchant account.
When it comes to features, Square is the clear winner. PayPal Here and Quickbooks are fairly similar in their feature sets, but are much more basic than Square.
EMV (Chip Card) and NFC Payment Ready?
As of last fall, all businesses that accept credit cards are required to have an EMV reader for chip cards, or they can be held liable for theft and fraud associated with those transactions. Square, PayPal Here, and Intuit GoPayment all have EMV chip card readers. As long as you are using those readers, you are in accordance with all EMV requirements.
Both Square and Paypal Here’s EMV readers also accept NFC payments like Apple Pay. Basically, your customer can setup an account with an NFC provider and then just tap their card to the reader to pay. Intuit GoPayment does not currently have the ability to accept NFC payments.
All three providers accept all major credit/debit cards and can record cash and check payments.
Square and and PayPal can both record gift certificate purchases. Basically, all that means is that you can offer gift certificates, notate that as the method of payment at checkout, and then track how much of your revenue came from gift certificates. It’s basically just like using a check.
Square is the only provider that has the ability to accept gift card payments. Unlike gift certificates, which can only be used once, gift cards can be reloaded as many times as needed. Also, they can be swiped at checkout, just like a credit card. Lastly, Square tracks all outstanding gift card liability (gift card money that customers have purchased from you but have not spent yet), and factors that into your revenue numbers.
You can do the same with gift certificates, but it is a much bigger hassle and is not tracked on the Square dashboard. You would have to add “gift certificates” as an inventory item, track total sales, and then subtract total redemption revenue to-date every time you wanted an idea of your outstanding liability (certificates purchased but not yet redeemed).
How Quickly Do You Get Your Money?
Square gives you the most options for getting your money fast into your business bank account. With PayPal Here and Intuit GoPayment, it takes a minimum of 2 business days and sometimes more.
Square is the hands-down winner when it comes to depth of third party integrations. PayPal Here is next, with Intuit GoPayments bringing up the rear.
For customer support, all three providers can be pretty hit or miss based on customer reviews. Here are the details.
All Mobile Credit Card Processing Solutions
Although we recommend Square for most small businesses, there may be individual cases where another mobile credit card processing solution makes more sense. Here’s a full list of the top providers and a short explanation of when they might be a better fit for your business.
|Square||Most small businesses||Mobile credit card processing solution that is easy-to-use, has great features, and has $0 monthly service fees|
|PayPal Here||Businesses that already have PayPal||Designed for Paypal users who just want a quick and no-frills way to accept on-the-go payments|
|Intuit GoPayment||Businesses that already have an Intuit Merchant Account||Does all the basics, but only really makes sense for users that already have an Intuit Merchant Account|
|Payline Data Mobile||Businesses that are looking for a good merchant account and mobile processing solution||One of the few mobile payment providers that offers transparent interchange + pricing|
|Clover Go||Businesses with a merchant account that integrates with First Data (e.g. Dharma)||A good basic mobile credit card processing solution with transparent and low-cost fees|
|Elavon||Businesses that already have a merchant services account with Elavon||Popular merchant services provider, but mobile fees are substantially higher than most other options|
The Bottom Line
If you want a functional and robust solution for mobile credit card processing, Square is the way to go. If you already have a PayPal account you use extensively or already have Quickbooks POS, then it may be better to go with PayPal Here or Intuit GoPayment. But for most small business owners, Square will give you the features and functionality you need without breaking the bank.