As more and more customers are ignoring cash in favor of credit cards, small cash only businesses have had to look for affordable ways to accept cards.
Thanks to innovative technology, even Indian food sellers operating out of a kiosk or a truck can now accept payments from anyone with a credit or debit card.
To put technology to work and get paid, anytime, anywhere, the merchant’s checklist includes three things: (1) an iPhone, (2) a payment app, and (3) a card reader provided by the mobile payment service provider.
Choosing the right service is essential, so here are the best five apps to take payments with your iPhone.
Square – no contract, no monthly fixed costs
Square was founded in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Square stands out with its simple and easy-to-use tools and back office. By using this platform, merchants have no obligations, no need to sign a contract, and pay only if they have a transaction – a single fee of 2.75% per swipe, or 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed transaction. Square is also one of the few mobile card reader companies that do not require a credit check.
Square will deposit the amount the next business day if the transaction takes place before 5:00 p.m. If not, the amount will reach the merchant’s bank account on the second business day.
While Square works on iOS 6.0 or later, it is recommended to take advantage of the most recent app available for iOS 7.
Back in May 2014, Square reported that it is processing more than $15 billion in payments per year, up from $8 billion reported in 2012. The most frequent complaint about Square has been lackluster customer service, leading people to look for alternatives to Square.
PayAnywhere – mobile or storefront
PayAnywhere was launched in 2011 and offers mobile payments solutions to businesses both in the US and internationally. Compared to Square, PayAnywhere provides two plans: storefront and mobile. The former includes a free tablet with built-in reader, charges 1.69% per swipe, and has a monthly basic service fee of $12.95.
By choosing the mobile plan, on the other hand, merchants have no monthly fees, but get a free mobile card reader and the PayAnywhere app. As for the cost, merchants are charged $2.69% per swipe, and will see their funds deposited in their bank account within one business day with sales processed before 5:00 p.m.
PayAnywhere’s parent company processes $12 billion in online transactions annually.
PayPal Here – cards, cash, eChecks, and PayPal check-in
PayPal is already known for being the leader in online payments, and with PayPal Here, the company has stepped into the field of mobile payments. The app allows merchants to accept payments from any card, charging 2.7% per swipe, or 3.5% +$0.15 per manually entered or scanned card.
For non-US cards, there is a 1% additional, cross-border fee. The service offers live customer support, but if you need to get access to your cash quickly, you need to apply for a PayPal Debit Card.
Another great feature of PayPal Here is that besides tracking cash sales, merchants can accept both eChecks and mobile payments without the card reader, meaning customers can even pay with PayPal by checking-in using the PayPal mobile app. PayPal processed $27 billion in mobile payment volume in 2013, up 99% on 2012.
Intuit GoPayment – synchronization with QuickBooks
Launched in 2009, Intuit GoPayment was among the first players targeting small businesses with an option to accept payments anytime, anywhere. Since Intuit is the maker of QuickBooks, accounting software for small businesses, one of the notable features is the automatic synchronization with QuickBooks.
GoPayment allows merchants to choose between two pricing plans: (1) for a $19.95 monthly fee, merchants are charged 1.75% per swipe, or 3.15% per keyed transaction plus a $0.25 transaction fee; and (2) a contract-free, Pay-as-you-go plan, which means a 2.40% swipe rate, or 3.40% keyed rate and the same $0.25 transaction fee.
Other features include a personalized look and up to 50 allowed users, which means all your employees can accept payments while on the go.
Authorize.net – payment gateway with mobile app
Founded in 1996, Authorize.net launched its mobile payment solution for iOS in 2011. The mobile app merchants can download to their iPhone, which is able to take payments without the need of a card reader from major payments networks. It’s pricing looks different compared to the above four: there is a $99 setup fee, $20 monthly gateway fee, $0.10 transaction fee, and $0.25 batch fee.
Over 400,000 merchants use authorize.net, and the company handles more than $100 billion annually in transactions (not only mobile).
To learn more about Authorize.net’s mobile payment app, read our full review.
All the aforementioned apps accept all major credit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover (some accept even more), and all require a customer signature – on the iPhone or iPad. All the apps are also available in Google Play for Android, but check compatibility carefully, as Square for example does not guarantee compatibility with any Android tablet.