Business on the go: how to transform your mobile devices into credit card readers

8 December 2016

If you want to sell in numerous locations and process transactions immediately, there is a quick and reliable solution: a special gadget for mobile devices that will help you accept credit/debit card payments on the go. All you need to do is to connect a card reader to your phone or tablet by plugging it into the headphone socket or using Bluetooth, then launch the corresponding app, swipe the plastic and ask your customer to enter the PIN or leave a signature on the screen of your mobile device. The order has been processed!

What’s more, mobile card readers and apps can help you create personalized promo offers, set customized alerts, analyze statistics and generate various reports, track inventory, add gift cards and other benefits, or set pickup/delivery appointments. This makes mobile card readers a useful tool not only for businesses, but for consumers as well, providing them with a better shopping experience and a new way to pay for purchases. Here is a list of credit card processors offering free and paid portable payment acceptance solutions to attract and retain customers:


Based in San Francisco (California), Square has a wide selection of mobile devices to process transactions online and offline. You can choose among three different payment processing systems: Square Reader, a free card swiping device for iPhone or Android phones that will be mailed out after opening an account, Square NFC/EMV Reader allowing iPhone owners to accept Apple Pay and EMV chip cards (the first device is free, each additional reader is $49), and Square Register, a point of sale app aimed to replace cash registers and classic credit card terminals. As for the fees, Square charges 2.75% for swiped transactions, or 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions. Since credit card fees have already been included in the commission, there are no additional charges from credit card companies.


Who hasn’t heard about PayPal? Besides its traditional and well-known financial services concerning online payments and money transfers, this company also offers PayPal Here – an easy and convenient way to process payments via iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices, providing you with a wide range of useful features. The first option is a chip card reader ($149.00) to accept magstripe or chip card payments, contactless and NFC-enabled mobile phone payments. You can also order a PayPal mobile card reader (the first gadget is free, each additional one sells for $14.99) that can be connected to your mobile device to process credit/debit cards with a magnetic stripe. PayPal charges 2.7% per US card swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction, and 1% for cross-border transfers.



Launched in 2012, SumUp is a leading mobile POS company in Europe providing various payment systems in 15 countries including Germany, Brazil and the United States. Merchants will never miss a sale with the SumUp Air Card Reader (£ 59.00 or € 79) that can be connected via Bluetooth to a iOS/Android mobile device to process credit/debit card payments directly in your shop or away from the cash register. It is possible to pay via tap-and-pay, Chip & PIN or magnetic swipe. If you’re not satisfied with the equipment, you can return it within 30 days. The company doesn’t charge any monthly fees – you will need to pay 2.75% per transaction for any card type.


Intuit, a business software provider located in California, offers the QuickBooks Payments option to enable small businesses provide better and faster customer service. The GoPayment portable payment acceptance solution includes a free magstripe card reader designed to work with popular iPhone, iPad, and Android devices and an app that supports multiple user accounts, in case several people will be taking payments for you. There are two pricing plans to choose from: a non-subscription plan (there is no monthly fee, but you’ll need to pay 2.40% for swiped transactions, 3.40% for manually entered transaction, and a 25¢ transaction fee) and a subscription plan (in this case, the monthly fee is $19.95, but other charges are lower: you will need to pay 1.6% for swiped transactions, 3.2% for manually entered transaction, and a 25¢ transaction fee).


A free plug-and-play mobile credit card reading gadget from PayAnywhere allows merchants to turn their Apple or Android phone/tablet into a credit card processing system that accepts all major card brands in various environments, from stores to craft fairs . If you want to accept EMV chip cards and contactless methods of payment like Apple Pay/Android Pay/Samsung Pay, you will need to buy their latest card reader model for $39.95. Depending on the business size and trading volume, PayAnywhere offers customers several types of pricing plans. For example, with the Mobile Made plan aimed at small businesses with a low transaction volume you will have to pay 2.69% for swiped transactions and 3.49% + $0.19 for keyed-in transactions.



One of the biggest payment processors in the world, Verifone couldn’t ignore the latest mobile technologies. It offers a wide range of portable payment processing devices, like E-Series mPOS Solution – a mobile point of sale terminal that supports major mobile devicies and operating systems and allows accepting magstripe cards, EMV cards, contactless/NFC-enabled payments, and other methods. The Verifone e355 device is a paymentl module for Android, iOS and Windows phones and tablets that enables acceptance of major payment types. The Verifone e100 module is a simple plug-and-play card reader allowing sellers to accept credit and signature-based debit card payments. As for the fees and comissions, the company’s site is rather perplexing: you will need to contact the sales department directly to get all required information.


If you are doing your business in one of the European countries, you probably know that for European mobile POS systems VISA allows just Chip & PIN authorizations. Pay attention to the Payleven payment system: the company offers the Plus mobile device (£ 59) which can be connected to an iOS and Android smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to accept Chip & PIN and contactless payments. In addition, Payleven also offers a special mobile printer to print receipts on the go (the combo set including the mobile printer sells for £ 226). As for the payment processing comission, the company charges 2.75% for each transaction. If your trading volume goes up, you can rely on more beneficial terms – 1.50% per transaction.

Due to new technologies and business models, the mobile payments ecosystem is rapidly evolving. Small businesses, food truck and street sellers, independent consultants, repair people, freelancers, and artisans can now use mobile card readers to offer new shopping experiences to their customers. However, don’t forget about payment processing fees: this added cost may significantly reduce your revenue stream. To check whether the new mobile payment option suits your type of business, you can start with a simple free card swiping device, and if successful, order a more advanced system providing a host of additional options.

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