When the iPhone was first introduced, few thought it would stimulate growth for small businesses, but this is exactly what’s happened. Now, even food trucks and cash-strapped merchants with an iPhone can accept payments from anyone with a credit or debit card.

The three things you need to take payments are:

  1. iPhone connected to WiFi or phone network
  2. Payment app
  3. Card reader by a mobile payment provider

Choosing the right service is essential, so we’ve pinpointed the six best payment apps currently in the US.

ProviderRatingApp costTo site
Square logoFree
Optional tools may incur costs
PayPal Here logoFree
Integrations may incur costs
SumUp logo Free
PayAnywhere logoFree
Clover logo $14-$29/mo
Intuit GoPayment logoFree or $20/mo
ProviderCostTo site
Square logoFree
Optional tools incur costs
PayPal Here logoFree
Integrations may incur costs
SumUp logoFree
PayAnywhere logoFree
Clover logo$14-$29/mo
Intuit GoPayment logoFree or $20/mo

Square – no contract, lots of available tools

Square stands out with its comprehensive, easy-to-use free tools and back office. 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, dip and tap payment on the small card readers (the fee is different for larger terminals) or 3.5% + 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 PM. If not, the amount will reach the merchant’s bank account on the following business day.

Square card reader

Contactless payment with Square Reader. To accept swipe, you’ll need the swipe reader plugged into the iPhone’s audio jack. Photo: Square

Apart from a beautiful product library with detailed product information, you can add several staff accounts (advanced permissions come at a cost), add discounts, track inventory and much more in the free software. Square can be expanded with more advanced POS systems for retail and restaurants, marketing, customer loyalty tools, e-commerce and many partner apps.

It is recommended you use the most recent app available for iOS for the best app performance. The most frequent complaint about Square has been lackluster customer service, leading people to look for alternatives to Square.

PayPal Here – cards, cash, eChecks and PayPal check-in

PayPal is already known within online payments, and with PayPal Here, the company has their slice of the mobile payments market too. The app allows merchants to accept payments from most cards, charging 2.7% per swipe or 3.5% + 0.15¢ per manually entered or scanned card. For foreign cards, there is a 1.5% additional cross-border fee.

PayPal Here Chip and Tap Reader with iPad

PayPal’s latest all-in-one swipe, contactless and chip card reader connects via Bluetooth with the PayPal Here app. Photo: PayPal

All transactions are deposited in your online PayPal account by default and have to be transferred manually to your bank account. Alternatively, you can get the PayPal Business Debit Mastercard to spend the funds directly from the online account.

Besides the ability to record cash sales, PayPal Here merchants can accept eChecks and let customers pay with PayPal via the mobile app check-in feature. The main advantage of PayPal is the ability to integrate the account with e-commerce and other online payment features.

SumUp – low-cost, no-fuss payments

SumUp Card Reader comes with no monthly fees, minimum sales requirements or other ongoing costs. You only pay $19 for the terminal, then a fixed 2.65% for all card reader payments, whether it is dip, tap or swipe. The app does not accept card-not-present transactions.

SumUp US card reader

SumUp Card Reader is for those who just need to get paid by swipe, EMV or NFC without any frills. Photo: SumUp

The app is free to use, including backend Dashboard analytics and reporting that any business would need. Transaction money is paid in to your chosen bank account within 1-2 business days.

Although simple, SumUp has useful features like a product library and the option to create different user accounts for staff. You can also process refunds and connect the card reader with compatible receipt printers, if emailing and texting receipts are not enough.

PayAnywhere – competitive fees with good features

PayAnywhere’s pay-as-you-go app for businesses making less than $10k a month doesn’t cost anything monthly, and even comes with a free EMV and swipe reader. The 3-in-1 card reader that also accepts NFC costs $49.95. If you have not had a single transaction in the last 12 months, you pay a monthly inactivity fee of $3.99. This fee stops applying as soon as you take the first payment again. Swipe, dip and tap payments are charged at 2.69% on this plan, while keyed transactions incur a 3.49% + 19¢ fee.

PayAnywhere 2-in-1 card reader

The PayAnywhere card readers connects wirelessly to your cell phone via Bluetooth. Photo: PayAnywhere

Transactions processed before 5 PM are deposited in your bank account the next business day for free; those processed after 5 PM may reach your bank account the weekday after.

The PayAnywhere app has some great reporting functions where you can customize analytics to focus on sales, payment methods and employee performance. You also get open tickets and tabs, invoicing, inventory features and more. Overall, PayAnywhere is good value for money.

Clover Go – comes with merchant account

Clover offers a full range of point of sale (POS) products that can be integrated, spanning from the mobile solution Clover Go to full-fledged hardware and POS software.

The fees have been simplified a little bit in recent years. Before, you had to get a contract through partner banks like Bank of America. Now, you can subscribe to the Clover Go app on the Clover website for $14 a month on the Register Lite plan or $29 a month on the Register plan. The former has fewer features and a higher transaction rate at 2.7% + 10¢. The other plan, Register, has more POS features and the lower card rate 2.3% + 10¢ for EMV, swipe and NFC payments. Both plans charge 3.5% + 10¢ for keyed-in cards. The card reader costs $69.

You can also get an offer from Payline, where rates are based on the specific payment card you accept.

Clover Go card reader

Clover Go accepts tap, swipe and chip cards, as well as keyed-in card payments from customers who are not present. Photo: Clover

Register Lite provides handy features like employee management (e.g. payroll, work shifts, permissions), refunds and dashboard reports. The Register app can process exchanges, send coupons in response to customer feedback, add gratuity to checks, and more.

Intuit GoPayment – synchronizes with QuickBooks

Intuit GoPayment was among the first players targeting small businesses with the option to accept payments any time, anywhere. Since Intuit is the maker of QuickBooks (accounting software for small businesses), one of the notable features is the automatic synchronization with QuickBooks – although this requires an additional subscription starting from $10 a month.

Intuit GoPayment All in One card reader

GoPayment’s All-in-One card reader connects with your iPhone to take EMV chip, contactless and swipe payments.

In the contract-free pay-as-you-go plan, swipe, dip and contactless payments cost 2.4% + 25¢, and keyed transactions cost 3.4% + 25¢. QuickBooks Desktop users (requires separate subscription) can choose a $20-per-month plan, fees being 1.6% + 30¢ per swipe, dip and tap and 3.3% + 30¢ per keyed transaction.

Features include a personalized look and limitless use accounts, which means all your employees can accept payments on the go.