Rating criteria on Mobile Transaction

Mobile Transaction assesses a number of payment products and services for small businesses. We strive towards independent and unbiased reviews, where the product or service in question is evaluated against key, set criteria.

Most small businesses value low start-up costs, transparency, ease of use and a lack of bureaucracy. These and other factors determine our review ratings, as outlined below.

We’ve selected the six following categories that get a number rating each:

1) Product, 2) Costs and fees, 3) Transparency and sign-up, 4) Value-added services, 5) Service and reviews, and 6) Contract.

Categories rated

1) Product

Quality, user experience and features of the core product being reviewed (hardware and/or software).

Apart from the hardware and software, we consider the purpose of the product – taking payments, in most cases – a key part of this. Does it fulfil its purpose well?

Products we review include:

  • Card machine
  • Card reader with app
  • POS software
  • Payment link
  • Online payment gateway
  • Ecommerce software
  • Virtual terminal
  • Invoice software
  • Business account

Detailed review criteria are found below.

2) Costs and fees

  • Upfront cost/price, monthly and annual fees, transaction fees and other fees.
  • If the price is high, is there an instalment plan?
  • Settlement options and payout times.
  • Are fees competitive for a small business, new business or individual merchant? We rate according to the value and affordability for new businesses and switchers in the SMB segment, not enterprises.

3) Transparency and sign-up

  • Ease and speed of signing up. Can you sign up online?
  • Extent of sales pressure and deceptive sales tactics. Do you have to request a quote? If pricing is given by quote, is a phone call the only option or can you discuss fees by email or chat?
  • Transparency on the website about pricing, contract, cancellation terms and product.

4) Value-added services

  • Number of additional payment features that add value to reviewed product – multichannel selling capabilities get a higher score.
  • Online dashboard, account management and reports.
  • Integration options and ability to grow with upgrades.

5) Service and reviews

  • Support opening hours, communication options (phone, email, chat), and quality and speed of support.
  • Are there good online resources?
  • We read online reviews and look into the reviews that provide valuable information. A higher rating is given to companies responding to negative reviews, provided the quality of the response is good. Are user reviews and complaints a concern? Is the user base worryingly small?

6) Contract

  • Lock- in length – less contractual commitment gives a higher rating.
  • Cancellation fees and ease of ending contract.
  • Do you need to sign more than one contract?

Rating scale

The number of stars indicate our final rating of the reviewed product, ranging between 1 and 5 stars.

Label Stars Visual
Excellent 5
Good 4
Passable 3
Bad 2
Very bad 1

The star rating often falls between whole numbers, e.g. 4.2 or 3.7.


We weigh the six categories differently. These are the weightings:

Category Weighting
Product 3
Costs and fees 3
Transparency and sign-up 2
Value-added services 2
Service and reviews 2
Contract 1

The most important criteria carry a heavier weighting because they affect other aspects of the service, i.e. could either drag down or elevate the entire product.

It would, for instance, be a deal-breaker if a card reader app is consistently buggy so you cannot accept cards at all. In this case, the service is useless even if the fees, contract, features, hardware and support are good. We therefore give a higher weighting to the reliability of the connected app than for, say, value-added services.

A higher weighting may be given to particular sub-points within the “Product” rating category, e.g. “reliability of app” gets a heavier weighting than “hardware design” within the same category. Only the Product category has more detailed sub-points to rate, as seen further down this page.

Given the sheer variety of product criteria, the weighting formula for each product category is not as strict as for the main 6 rating categories, but we try to give a measured Product score with some weighting in mind.

Consequently, we first determine a rating for the Product category based on our verdict of each sub-point. Then we calculate the overall review rating with the other categories added to the equation (Contract, Cost & Fees, etc.).

Example of how we might determine a Product category score:

[(Works efficiently? x 5) + (Payment methods x 2) + (Hardware quality x 2) + (Software x 2) + (Setup x 1)]
[(5 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 1)]
Product category rating

We then calculate the overall rating:

[(Product x 3) + (Costs & fees x 3) + (Transparency & sign-up x 2) + (Value-added services x 2) + (Service & reviews x 2) + (Contract x 1)]
[(3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 2+ 1)]
Final number of stars (review rating)

Recommendations and rankings

We typically do not recommend products and services receiving less than 3.5 stars overall. Such a rating indicates that there are better options in the market. Unless users are looking for a very specific feature only available with this product, we recommend that businesses look elsewhere.

When a product is brand new with limited time for testing in the market, we usually do not rate it higher than 4 stars on the product side. That being said, the company offering the product might be well known to us and the market, and other aspects of the service might receive a higher rating.

We only review products we believe have potential, or with a track record of users that endorse the service. The fact that we have reviewed a product does not mean we necessarily recommend it, but we recognise its potential.

If a product is best in class, we typically rank it highest in comparisons. However, comparisons targeted at a specific sector might benefit more from a product that is not rated highest in general, and so we may in that case recommend this highest instead.

Our comparisons do not necessarily rank products in order of best to worst, as different products will suit different users best.

Product-specific rating criteria

Apart from the general criteria set above, we assess specific criteria within product categories that reflect what small businesses find important.

The first bullet point in each product category has a much higher weighting because it addresses the basic function of the product.

Card machines

  • Does accepting contactless and chip and PIN card payments in person work efficiently? (highest weighting)
  • Payment methods:
    • Range of cards accepted without an additional contract, e.g. American Express as well as Visa and Mastercard.
    • Does it accept other payments than chip/NFC, like preauthorisations, gift cards, keyed entry, or QR code payments?
  • Hardware:
    • Ergonomics, design, hardware features and quality of the terminal.
    • Does it have a year’s warranty?
    • Connectivity options (WiFi, GPRS, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, Ethernet). Is a SIM card included if it’s a mobile terminal?
    • Battery life if it’s a mobile terminal: a longer battery life gives a higher rating. Is a charging dock included?
  • Software :
    • Are software features reliable, good and relevant for the intended customers?
    • Does it integrate with different POS systems?
  • Is it easy to set up and install?

Card readers with app

  • Does the card reader connect reliably with the app? Does the app work reliably to take payments when you need it? Is the app frequently updated? Smooth experience of accepting contactless and chip and PIN card payments in person? (highest weighting)
  • Payment methods:
    • Range of cards accepted without an additional contract, e.g. American Express as well as Visa and Mastercard.
    • Does it accept other payments than chip/NFC, like preauthorisations, gift cards, keyed entry, or via QR code?
  • Hardware:
    • Ergonomics, design, hardware features and quality of the terminal.
    • Can it connect with a receipt printer, cash drawer and barcode scanner?
    • Does the app work on both Android and iOS devices?
    • A long battery life gets a higher rating. Is a charging dock included?
    • Does it come with a year’s warranty?
  • Software:
    • Does the app have core features incl. a transactions overview with options to refund, sales reports, custom amounts, product library, cash acceptance and digital receipts?
    • Does it integrate with different POS systems?
  • Is it easy to set up and install?

POS software

  • Are checkout features at the point of sale sufficient for the intended sector? (highest weighting)
  • Software:
    • User-friendliness of till and dashboard interface. Is it easy to set up?
    • Backend reports and end-of-day reports.
    • Upgrade and integration options for more functionality.
  • Is a free trial available? Higher ratings are given if you can test it before sign-up.
  • Hardware compatibility (iOS, Android, PC touchscreens, till equipment).

Payment links

  • Do online payments work efficiently, from the link creation/sending side through to the payer’s experience of completing a payment? (highest weighting)
  • Link options:
    • One-off or reusable links, transaction or product links, amount-only or itemised bill, open or fixed amounts, URLs or embeddable buttons?
  • Payment methods:
    • Range of accepted cards and payment methods.
    • Can you generate QR codes?
  • Software:
    • Can link payments be tracked, and links cancelled, paused or edited after they are sent?
    • Can you add items from a product library or a recipient from a customer library?
    • Are receipt options good?

Online payment gateways

  • Is the online checkout easy to use for customers on both computers and mobile devices? Is it optimised for high conversion? (highest weighting)
  • Can you set it up easily without a developer or coding knowledge?
  • Range of accepted cards, mobile wallets and options to add more payment methods.
  • Can it be installed in user-friendly online stores that are suitable for a small business?
  • Customisation options of the online checkout.

Ecommerce software

  • User-friendliness of online store builder software. Is it easy to create and launch an online store relatively fast? (highest weighting)
  • Integrations with online payments – are the options good and competitively priced?
  • Features:
    • Range of template options.
    • Is there a free website option?
    • Can you easily add your own domain?
  • Can you manage the store, orders and customers from a phone as well as a computer?

Virtual terminals

  • Is it easy and efficient to take a payment through the virtual terminal? (highest weighting)
  • Features:
    • Range of accepted cards.
    • Range of security checks you can complete (e.g. full address, name on card).
    • Is there a preauthorisation option? Card on file option?
    • Can you itemise the bill, connect it to an order, product and/or customer, or only enter a transaction description?
  • Can it only be used on a computer, or on a smartphone too?

Invoicing software

  • Is it easy to create, send and manage invoices? (highest weighting)
  • What payment options can you add to the invoice? If integrated with online payments, does it accept a good range of cards and mobile wallets?
  • Software:
    • Can you send payment reminders and monitor payment statuses?
    • Can you create estimates, proforma invoices, delivery notes, credit notes and recurring invoices?
    • Can you attach contracts, customers (from a library) and products (from a library)?
    • Can you send and manage invoices on your phone or only on a computer?
    • Are the invoice customisations good?

Business accounts

  • Is the banking app efficient for managing money, cards and payments? (highest weighting)
  • Does it come with a physical Prepaid or full Debit Card? (Debit is best) If it only includes a virtual card, it gets a lower rating.
  • Is it an e-money account or bank account? (Bank account is best)
  • Payments and finance:
    • Are there any credit, loan and overdraft options?
    • How good are the international payment features?
    • Can you deposit and withdraw cash and cheques?
  • Additional features:
    • Are budgeting tools good?