Getting paid with plastic used to mean a host of fees, expensive hardware, and complicated gateway services. Those days are long gone now, thanks to a growing plethora of card readers and other payment processors with simple, straightforward fees, access to inventory management tools, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, and so much more. Now your smartphone or tablet can handle the bulk of your selling needs, making things a whole lot easier if you’re a small business, freelancer, or just want an easier way to accept credit cards and the new EMV chip they house.
A while back, we looked at a number of the big competitors out there that let you set up mobile payments. This year, we’re diversifying. Below, we break down seven different card readers or payment processors that might be the right choice for your business. Each offers a variety of features, along with different fees for accepting credit cards and using their POS solutions.
What are your needs?
Everyone’s business is different, and whether you’re a freelancer with occasional credit card customers or a brick-and-mortar business with a large inventory to manage, there’s something here that will meet your everyday needs. Here, we’ll break down the fees, accessories, and support for each of these payment providers, and spend some time talking about frozen accounts and other issues that might come up while using a mobile card reader.
Intuit QuickBooks GoPayment
Intuit is back with the GoPayment reader, and GoPayment is all about integration. The service is part of the QuickBooks family of products, and offers an easy way to merge your day-to-day business operations with your own QuickBooks accounting software, whether you’re using the old-fashioned software or the new QuickBooks Online.
The App: The GoPayment app finally got the makeover it deserved, with a new look that is as clean on smartphones as it is tablets. Everything you plug into the GoPayment app seamlessly goes into your QuickBooks Online experience, whether it’s inventory management, sales records, or receipts. The app supports GoPayment’s mobile payment platform, which also includes credit cards and e-checks via ACH for $0.50 each.
Fees: Instead of just offering a flat rate for credit card payments, Intuit offers two plans, each with different transaction fees. The regular plan with no monthly fee will cost you 2.40 percent + $0.25 per swiped transaction. It’s lower than most credit cards, but it will definitely hurt if you’re running a lot of small transactions. There are also additional fees if your customer uses a business rewards, Discover, or AmEx card, which range between $0.07 and $0.29 each. For $20 a month, you can get the rate down to a mere 1.75 percent + $0.25 per transaction, but you’ll have to make at least $3,000 a month for it to be worth the extra cost. If you key-in the transaction, it will cost you closer to 3.4 percent + $0.25 and 3.15 + $0.25 percent, respectively. There are also additional fees for chargebacks, a failed bank payment, or a returned check. None of this includes a QuickBooks Online subscription, though, which gives you full integration with QuickBooks accounting tools.
Accessories: If you’re looking for something professional, then GoPayment has you covered. It costs more than $1,000, but the Point of Sale (POS) cash register solutions come turn-key with integration for inventory, QuickBooks accounting, and more. You’ll also likely want to pay the monthly fee to get integration with the rest of Intuit’s tools from Quickbooks. And yes, the new card reader accepts EMV chips.
Support: Since Quickbooks GoPayment is integrated into the rest of Intuit’s services, you get a similar level of customer service across GoPayment. There’s email support, a live knowledge base, and phone support with pretty decent hours. It might take some time to find the right department for your needs, but Intuit offers a wealth of resources, all of which are available through the company’s support lines.
Recommendation: If you use QuickBooks, Intuit offers the best integration, since the company makes both QuickBooks and GoPayment. Other services integrate with QuickBooks, too. You might want to consider Intuit’s solution if you have a brick-and-mortar store, deal with a lot of transactions, or want something extremely robust.
As one of the oldest mobile card readers, Square focuses on simple and straightforward pricing and design. The company also offers some powerful integration for managing orders and other new POS solutions. For instance, Square now accepts gift cards, compiles invoices, and offers phone support for its customers.
The App: Square’s app for mobile devices is stylish and simple. The minimalist design lets you quickly and easily take an order, yet still gives you quick access to all the settings and extra tools — i.e. integration with your favorite inventory management solution — that are unique to your configuration. You can even do some cool stuff if you’re a bar or restaurant, such as open a tab for a customer or accept payments if the internet temporarily goes out.
Fees: Square, like the company’s official mobile app, keeps the fee process simple. Swiping, dipping a chip, or using a contactless payment method with Square is 2.75 percent, no matter the credit card. The fee is higher than that of others, but it doesn’t include hidden fees for minimum sales or rewards cards, so you always know what each card will cost to use. If you key in the transaction, it will cost you 3.5 percent + $0.15. If you pay online, it’s 2.9 percent + $0.30. You can get a better rate if you are a big business, but Square doesn’t say how big.
Accessories: Square’s POS solution is probably one of the easier ways to get your storefront up and running. As long as you have an iPad and Square’s custom dock ($100), you’re ready to go. Another powerful function with Square is the ability to connect the POS technology between multiple iOS devices, allowing you to handle orders, inventory, and more from a network of devices that are spread across your store. Square now offers a contactless chip reader for mobile payment support, too, allowing you to stay ahead of the game.
Support: Square has vastly improved its support experience in the last couple of years, and now offers phone support in addition to its Twitter and email-based support. This comes in addition to all sorts of new services, including payroll, invoicing, and other robust business tools.
Recommendation: Square remains a great option if you want an easy way to accept credit card payments. It’s a terrific platform for starting out, yet, one that also grows into a more robust solution alongside your business. The company also offers decent phone support, and supports offline payments and gift cards. Consider Square if you’re just getting started and don’t know how often you’ll need to support credit card payments.
Using its own payment services, North American Bancard has also jumped into the ring of potential candidates. Payanywhere focuses on offering both a simple mobile solution as well as a comprehensive storefront and POS solution that comes with competitive rates for businesses and a big network of payment providers for top-notch support services.
The App: PayAnywhere’s app offers a straightforward and simple design. The app is robust with a detailed menu and sale system, inventory management, reports and analytics on your sales, and, of course, the usual inclusion of tax and discount options for your orders. The easy access to analytics suggests that it’s best suited for store owners who want a one-stop shop for managing their finances, and don’t want to depend on a separate website or service.
Fees: Like GoPayment, PayAnywhere offers a two-tiered solution, but with a lot of fine print. For no monthly fee, you can swipe from the mobile app for 2.69 percent, whether you’re dealing with a Visa, MasterCard, or AmEx. This undercuts Square by just a hair.
If you cough up $13 a month for the “storefront” edition, then you only have to pay 1.69 percent for a Visa, MasterCard, or AmEx. However, business credit cards will still cost 2.69 percent. You’ll also have to also have to pull in at least $5,000 a month, or PayAnywhere will tack on a huge $80 fee to your account. That said, we don’t really recommend you pay for the Storefront service unless you know that you’re going to make the discounted rate worth your while. If you want to key in transactions, it will cost you 3.49 percent + $0.19.
Accessories: Like the others, PayAnywhere offers a comprehensive POS solution for those interested in taking advantage of its payment system in a brick-and-mortar store. Unlike the others, however, the company isn’t making you shell out thousands of dollars for the solution. To get started with the Storefront, the company offers a free tablet and stand.
Support: Backed by North American Bancard and its network of support for all its payment processing services, PayAnywhere has top-notch customer support. This includes phone and chat support, both of which are available 24 hours a day in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
Recommendation: If you’re a mom-and-pop shop that depends on credit cards for business, then PayAnywhere might be up your alley. The 1.69 percent rate is killer for most cards, and probably still cheaper than most when you add on the fees for Discover and business cards. It’s also easier to set up than a traditional payment gateway and comes with excellent customer support.