Mobile credit card readers are devices that process credit card payments through your smartphone or tablet so that you can sell your products or services anywhere. We compared a variety of mobile credit card readers, all of which offer low startup costs and easy-to-use devices, so you can choose the best one for your small business.
Top 6 Mobile Credit Card Readers 2019
|Square||(Best Overall) Small and new businesses that process low-ticket transactions needing a low-cost provider|
|Shopify POS||Online merchants who want to take business offline to sell at markets, conventions, and shows|
|PayPal Here||Pop-up shops, food trucks, other on-the-go sellers that want to accept credit cards and PayPal payments|
|Intuit GoPayment||QuickBooks users selling outside of their brick-and-mortar business who want easy integration for accounting|
|Cayan||High-dollar sellers who need a mobile credit card reader that can negotiate the cost-plus fees down|
|PayAnywhere||Low-ticket, high-volume sellers who want the lowest transaction fees|
How We Evaluated Mobile Credit Card Readers
There are a wide variety of mobile card readers on the market that allows you to accept payments on location at an event, or you want to replace the traditional point-of-sale (POS) system at your brick-and-mortar location. All of them are easy to use, but the best options offer excellent business management tools, low transaction fees, and attentive customer support.
We considered a variety of criteria to choose the top mobile credit card readers, including:
- Startup costs: All our picks either cost nothing for you to get started taking payments, or offer a low-cost reader and monthly fee
- Transaction fees: Your mobile credit card reader and mobile POS (mPOS) shouldn’t cut too far into your profits with these top picks, but you may need to choose one or another based on your average ticket and/or volume of sales
- All-in-One readers: All mobile credit card readers accept magstripe (swipe) payments, but many also allow for EMV (chip) and contactless (Apple or Google Pay) payments
- Ease of use: There’s an industry standard when it comes to mobile card readers, and all our top choices follow suit, making it easy for you to operate and for customers to use
- Flexibility: You should be able to use your mobile credit card reader while on the go, but you should also be able to use it at your physical location, online store, or be able to send invoices
Square hits all the marks to earn our recommendation as the best overall mobile credit card reader for small business. It’s easy to use, and it’s a well-known card reader, which inspires confidence among customers when they see the little square logo. The fees are average, and you can use it anywhere — even without an internet connection.
Square: Best Overall Mobile Credit Card Reader for Small Businesses
Square is made for small businesses that need to accept credit cards from anywhere with its easy-to-use mobile card reader. Even if you forgo the free magstripe reader for the all-in-one option to accept swipes, chips, and taps for payment, you’ll only pay a small fee, plus a processing fee per transaction.
Square’s pricing for mobile users is simple when you break it down to hardware and processing costs. There are no hidden fees with Square. You pay a flat fee for processing, depending on the method of payment, which means you shouldn’t be surprised when you see your Square bill.
In terms of cost, Square is one of the most affordable, thanks to no monthly fee. PayAnywhere is comparable for high-volume sellers with sales of greater than $50,000 per month, but you’ll pay a monthly fee. In the chart below, you can see what the fees are for each method of payment, plus the hardware costs, if applicable.
Square Pricing Chart
Square Hardware/Payment Method
|Square Reader (Magstripe)|
|Square Reader (Chip & Contactless)|
Note: Square has recently changed its flat-rate fee of 2.75% to 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. We will update the pricing and our ranking of providers in the next update of this article.
In the world of mobile credit card readers, Square tops lists for several reasons, and one of those reasons is the feature set that all Square users get with an account. Many of the business management tools Square offers are free to use when you sign up, such as inventory control, online store, analytics, invoicing, and customer directory. There are also add-on features that you can get for a low monthly fee.
Square’s Inventory Control
After you enter items you plan to sell into your inventory on Square, you can set up low-stock alerts, so you’ll know when it’s time to restock. Also, your inventory count online is synced with your app, so you’ll always know what you have in stock in real time.
Online Store With Square
You can start selling immediately with Square by setting up an online store, which is free to set up and use. All you pay are transaction fees. The store’s inventory can sync with your Square app, so you’ll always know what you have in stock. Like Shopify POS, you can connect your store to a domain you have, and you can customize your store’s theme and add your branding.
Square’s Data Analytics
All Square accounts come with free data analytics so that you can see how sales are doing each day, week, month, and so on. You can also see which products are selling well, those that aren’t, and get insight on customer’s spending habits with your store, whether online or mobile. Also, Square sends a daily summary to your inbox, so you don’t even have to run a report manually.
Invoicing in Square
Similar to PayPal Here, you can send customer invoices with Square. You can set up invoicing for a single payment or recurring payments, and you can send it to a customer for them to pay later, along with automatic reminders so that you don’t have to remember to send them, or they can pay in person.
Square’s Customer Directory
Even if you do most of your business on the go, Square makes it easy for you to keep track of customers with its customer directory. Add a customer to your database with contact information and notes, so you can personalize your interactions each time you see them. It’s like having free customer relationship management software (CRM) built right into your mobile credit card reader.
What Square Is Missing
Although you can accept almost any form of payment with Square’s mobile credit card readers, the company doesn’t yet offer an all-in-one mobile card reader for magstripe, chip, and contactless cards. You’ll have to get the free magstripe reader and pay for the chip and contactless reader separately when you’re doing mobile sales. Both Intuit GoPayment and PayPal Here offer a single all-in-one mobile card reader.
Square User Reviews
In Square user reviews, it’s clear to see that customers like knowing precisely how much they’ll pay for hardware and in transaction fees. However, they’ve also noted that Square is not the least expensive mobile credit card reader out there, but it is one of the easiest to set up and use. Square users have noted that while customer support is knowledgeable and helpful, it isn’t always easy to get a hold of someone because there’s no weekend live phone support.
Shopify POS: Best Mobile Credit Card Reader for Selling Online & Offline
Shopify POS gives you a free magstripe and chip reader to help you go from selling online only to offline as well. Your online inventory syncs with your mobile credit card reader and app, which makes this a terrific choice for ecommerce sellers who want to make in-person sales too.
Shopify POS Pricing
When it comes to transaction fees, Shopify is slightly lower than the best mobile credit card reader from Square. However, to use Shopify and to get the free mobile credit card reader, you’ll have to choose a monthly plan, which starts at $9 per month. The benefit to this monthly fee is that you’ll be able to sell your products on a Facebook store too. The chart below shows what you’ll need to pay to get started, plus fees for alternative payments.
Shopify Pricing Chart
|Shopify Reader (Magstripe & Chip)|
|Shopify Reader (Magstripe, Chip & Contactless)|
|Shopify Lite (Monthly)|
Shopify POS Features
Shopify POS simplifies sales for your business with its ecommerce store, mobile credit card readers, and its POS features. You can manage everything from inventory and sales to customer profiles and discounts.
Shopify Inventory Management
Once you set up your Shopify store online, you’ll be able to add items to your inventory through the web-based portal. It’s easy to start selling offline because you’ll use the same system for managing inventory even when you’re selling in person. As your customers order online or with you personally at an event, your inventory is synced automatically so that you can see the exact number of items you have.
Reporting in Shopify
It’s important to know how your business is doing, and Shopify POS makes it easy to see the sales you’ve done online and offline from day to day, week to week, and so on. You can also run reports to see net profits, taxes, and fees paid. Item reporting is also available, so you can identify which of your products are selling well.
Shopify Customer Management
Customer profiles in Shopify POS are similar to those in Square. You can add contact information and save a customer’s profile in your system. A field for notes is available, so you can add important details about a customer to help personalize each conversation with them. Plus, you can use your customer data for marketing.
Discounts With Shopify
Inspire customers to shop online or offline with a variety of discounts that you can set up in the Shopify mobile app or the web portal. Choose from limited-time, minimum-purchase, or other rule-based promotions. There are even VIP or loyalty type discounts you can set up.
What Shopify POS Is Missing
Unlike Square, Shopify POS won’t let you accept payments from its mobile credit card reader if it’s offline. There’s also not an easy way to split checks using Shopify POS, which makes this challenging to use if you’re operating a food truck or pop-up restaurant, for example.
Shopify POS User Reviews
One of the biggest benefits of using Shopify POS, according to Shopify POS user reviews, is that the ecommerce store syncs seamlessly with the mobile card reader and app. Inventory and other data are updated automatically and reflected in both areas. However, Shopify POS was built with the iOS user in mind, so the all-in-one mobile credit card reader won’t work for your Android devices.
PayPal Here: Best Mobile Credit Card Reader for Accepting In-person PayPal Payments
PayPal Here is a mobile credit card reader and POS that allows you to accept almost all forms of payment wherever you are, including in-person PayPal payments. The app includes helpful features for managing your business, such as inventory management. Plus, PayPal offers a business debit card, which can get you your funds faster.
PayPal Here Pricing
Pricing for PayPal Here is comparable to Shopify POS, at least when it comes to transaction fees. You won’t have to pay a monthly fee, however, which makes PayPal Here a good alternative to Square. Hardware is likely to cost you a bit more, however, if you need to accept magstripe, chip, and contactless methods of payment.
PayPal Here Pricing Chart
|PayPal Mobile Card Reader (Magstripe)|
|PayPal Chip and Swipe Reader (Magstripe & Chip)|
|PayPal Chip and Tap Reader (Magstripe, Chip & Contactless)|
PayPal Here Features
What sets PayPal Here apart from your other mobile credit card reader options is that you can get access to your funds almost immediately by using the PayPal business debit card. The other features should be familiar as they’re standard issue with most mobile card readers and apps, such as inventory management and reporting.
PayPal Business Debit Card
If you’d rather not wait the days, it can take to transfer funds from your PayPal account to your bank account, you can apply for the PayPal business debit card. Your funds can be available to you on the same day this way. Plus, the 1% cash back offer on eligible purchases means that you can recover some of the fees you pay for transactions.
As is the case with Square, you can manage your inventory on the PayPal Here app. Add items and photos, and then set prices from your mobile device or desktop. You have a lot of control over categories and variations, so you can get through each sale quickly without having to search for a price or enter it manually.
It’s important for you to stay on top of the health of your business, and PayPal Here makes it easy for you to see how you’re doing on sales. A daily summary is available in the app, but you can also run a custom report with a date range, or you can see how specific salespeople are doing day to day.
What PayPal Here Is Missing
PayPal Here’s starter mobile credit card reader comes with a caveat: If you do more than $500 in sales in a seven-day period, your funds could be held for up to 30 days. It’s fraud protection effort on PayPal’s part because swiped cards and keyed-in transactions are far less secure than chip and contactless payments. This could be a huge inconvenience for you if you need access to that cash flow. Also, PayPal Here doesn’t offer an offline mode where you can continue to make sales and take credit card payments when you have no internet connection like Square.
PayPal Here User Reviews
It’s clear in PayPal Here user reviews that it is an easy-to-use mobile credit card reader. Many users have noted how simple it is to set up, and they like that they can accept a variety of payment methods, whether online or when on the go. The biggest complaint about PayPal, however, is that the company can freeze your assets if it believes you have violated terms of service or to prevent fraud. It can take months to gain access to your funds in some cases.
Intuit GoPayment: Best Mobile Credit Card Reader for QuickBooks Integration
Intuit GoPayment offers a magstripe and chip mobile credit card reader for free when you sign up. It integrates seamlessly QuickBooks, making bookkeeping easier. If you’re processing high-ticket sales, such as in a service industry or you sell art at events, you could save money using Intuit GoPayment compared to other mobile credit card readers.
Intuit GoPayment Pricing
When you consider processing percentages only, it seems as though Intuit GoPayment is the better option compared to Square, Shopify POS, or PayPal Here. However, there’s a 25-cent fee tacked on to every transaction, which can add up quickly if you process many tickets. Intuit GoPayment can save you money if you only use its mobile card reader occasionally for high-dollar tickets.
Intuit GoPayment Pricing Chart
|Intuit GoPayment Reader (Magstripe & Chip)|
|Intuit GoPayment All-in-One Reader (Magstripe, Chip & Contactless)|
|PCI Compliance (Monthly)|
Intuit GoPayment Features
While Intuit GoPayment features through its mobile card reader app seem basic, there is one standout feature: Scan credit cards using your mobile device. It’s a helpful feature to have if you have a spotty internet connection and can’t process payments immediately. Also, you’ll be able to brand your receipts, manage inventory, and integrate your QuickBooks account easily.
Scanned Payments With Intuit GoPayment
Through the Intuit GoPayment app, you can scan or take a photo of a customer’s credit card. It’s a good workaround when you have no internet connection, but you don’t want to lose a sale. It’ll still count as a keyed-in transaction, so it comes with a higher fee, but it saves you the trouble of entering numbers manually, which reduces the chance of human error.
Intuit GoPayment Receipt Branding
Like Square, Intuit GoPayment allows you to customize your receipts and invoices to include your business name, logo, and more. It’s a good way to continue marketing to your customers, and it helps your customers get in touch with you easily after a purchase.
QuickBooks Integration With Intuit GoPayment
Every transaction you record through Intuit GoPayment syncs with your QuickBooks account automatically. This feature makes tracking sales and taxes for accounting and bookkeeping purposes much easier.
What Intuit GoPayment Is Missing
Unlike other mobile credit card readers and apps, Intuit GoPayment doesn’t offer robust reporting options. You can see transaction history but little else from the app. The web-based portal shows you more, but even that won’t show you which products are selling well as Square’s does.
Intuit GoPayment User Reviews
For the most part, Intuit GoPayment user reviews of Intuit GoPayment are positive. The ease of use and convenience are noted as is the ability to scan a credit card for payment. The integration of QuickBooks is a big selling point for many users as well. It can sometimes be difficult to get through to customer support, although when a connection is made, support representatives are helpful and friendly.
Cayan: Best Mobile Credit Card Reader for Custom Costs
Cayan is a traditional merchant services provider that offers a mobile credit card reader for on-the-go sales. Its pricing structure is a little different than other flat-rate processors, but it could be a good option if you’re making high-dollar sales and can negotiate your fees down. Plus, it integrates well with popular POS software.
Cayan doesn’t follow suit in fees with our pick for the best mobile credit card reader, Square, but it might be a better option if you can negotiate your rate. Cayan charges you a variable percentage rate, plus 15 cents per transaction in addition to the actual interchange rate from the credit card used for payment. There are a few other fees too.
|Cayan Reader (Swipe & Chip)|
|Statement Fee (Monthly)|
|PCI Compliance (Annually)|
Although Cayan charges a monthly statement fee and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance fee, you could end up paying a lower total per month compared to flat-fee rates from other mobile credit card reader companies and processors. You have to make sure you’re making about $50,000 per month or more in sales.
Cayan’s mobile card reader works with the SwipeSimple mPOS app, which offers the types of features you’d expect. You’ll be able to add and edit inventory from the app or the web-based dashboard. Additionally, you can use it in offline mode to accept credit cards even when you don’t have an internet connection like Square. Cayan is also known for excellent customer support.
Inventory, Tips & Taxes With Cayan
Like other mobile credit card readers’ apps, this one for Cayan allows you to track inventory and sales easily. Plus, taxes are calculated automatically for each sale. There’s a prompt for tip with suggested percentages, and you can create discounts to apply, including cash and percentage discounts.
Cayan Allows Offline Charges
Cayan’s mobile card reader can accept keyed-in payments, and it has an offline mode, like Square. So, if you’re selling products in an area with less-than-reliable internet, you can still make sales.
Customer Support for Cayan
One of the best parts of choosing Cayan as your payment processor and mobile card reader provider is that it offers 24/7 customer support by phone. Only Shopify POS does better with support options.
What Cayan Is Missing
Cayan offers you a free mobile credit card reader when you sign up for its service, but that reader only takes magstripe and chip cards. If you want a complete mobile card reader that also accepts contactless payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay, you’ll have to pay $499 for that device, which is a bit much for a small business owner.
Cayan User Reviews
Overall, Cayan user reviews show that customers are extremely happy with customer service. The mobile card readers are simple to use, and training is rarely needed for salespeople. Although interchange plus rates are what many payment processors like Cayan use, it can be confusing for new business owners, which may explain why rates are a big pain point mentioned in reviews.
PayAnywhere: Best Mobile Credit Card Reader for Lowest Transaction Fees
PayAnywhere is a payment processor that offers a free all-in-one mobile credit card reader for magstripe, chip, or contactless payments. The app includes a variety of features to help you manage your business, and depending on the plan you choose, PayAnywhere has some of the lowest transaction fees around.
PayAnywhere sticks to the popular flat-rate pricing structure that others like Square and PayPal Here use. Where it differs is that you have the option of choosing a pay-as-you-go plan or a plan with a monthly fee. It all depends on the number of sales you expect to do each month. The more money you make, the more you can save with PayAnywhere. Also, PayAnywhere is the only option on our list that offers an all-in-one mobile card reader for free.
PayAnywhere Pricing Chart
|Monthly Sales (Required)**|
|Monthly Volume Fee (<$5,000 in Sales)|
*A $3.99 inactivity monthly fee will be applied to merchants who have no transactions after 12 months
**$30,000 or more per month merchants can negotiate a better rate with a PayAnywhere sales representative
PayAnywhere’s features make it easy for you to conduct business from your mobile devices, whether you’re running a pop-up restaurant, food truck, or making sales at an event. You can start a tab and keep it open for a customer with PayAnywhere’s pre-authorization feature. Plus, you can create invoices for single or recurring payments. You can also add discounts, taxes by location, and there’s a full reporting system.
Pre-authorization With PayAnywhere
A key feature from PayAnywhere’s mobile credit card reader and app is the ability to pre-authorize a credit card. You can put a hold on funds for a customer and run the total later, which makes it easy to open a tab for a pop-up restaurant, for example. It’s a feature that’s missing from, Square, our top pick.
PayAnywhere, like many other mobile credit card readers and payment processors, allows you to create and send invoices to customers so that you can run a manual credit card payment. This is a good way to set up recurring payments as well if you offer services, rather than products, through your small business.
Taxes, Discounts & Receipts With PayAnywhere
Being able to apply discounts and taxes isn’t a unique feature as most other mobile card readers, and their apps allow for it. However, PayAnywhere lets you include tax by location, which means you don’t have to look up taxes manually. It’s a helpful short cut, especially if you’re traveling to various states. You can customize your receipts to include your business name, contact information, and your logo. PayAnywhere lets you print if you have a printer, email, or text receipts to customers.
PayAnywhere offers more than just a daily sales summary in terms of reporting. You can view sales by date or date range, look at deposits, or individual transactions. There are also options that allow you to see which credit card is used most by customers, which products or categories of products are hot sellers, and which of your employees are doing the best in sales.
What PayAnywhere Is Missing
If anything, PayAnywhere is lacking transparency. Many of its fees are somewhat hidden, and if you don’t read the fine print, you could be in for a hefty fee surprise. The hidden fees come in the form of an inactivity fee and dipping below $5,000 in sales if you’re on the Standard plan.
PayAnywhere User Reviews
It’s difficult to find PayAnywhere user reviews that are positive. The few out there are from users who have noticed that PayAnywhere has improved its feature set for the app, and the free all-in-one mobile credit card reader with an account sign up. However, most reviews are negative and deal mostly with held funds and no call backs from support.
The Bottom Line
The best mobile credit card readers come with feature-filled apps, easy to use interfaces, and reasonable transaction rates. If your sales are high each month, you might get a better deal from an interchange plus rate option like Cayan. Otherwise, our recommendation would be a flat-fee rate option like Square.
Square offers the most features in its app, a free mobile card reader, and a low-cost option for an all-in-one reader, so you can take almost any form of payment. It’s easy to use, from creating inventory to managing your business to making sales. Square is overall the best mobile credit card reader for all these reasons and more. Get started for free today.