Have you ever thought how convenient it might be to take credit card payments using your phone or tablet? Consider these scenarios: You’re having a garage sale, spearheading a fundraiser, starting up a small business or even just want to get reimbursed from a friend for lunch or a loan. Taking credit card payments using your mobile device is easy, and getting started won’t cost you a penny.
This fully encrypted card reader fits in your pocket and plugs into the 3.5mm headphone jack on your phone. You just install a Square app onto your iOS or Android device and you’re set to begin accepting payments that will show up in your bank account usually by the next day. There’s no merchant account to mess with, nor are there monthly fees or set up costs. You only pay transaction fees: 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express or 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction for manually entered cards.
The Square Reader app works on Apple devices running iOS 4.1 and up and on many Android devices running Android 2.1 and up. It lets people from whom you’re taking payment add a tip, sign with a finger, and receive an electronic receipt via text or email. It also lets you review your sales history and resend receipts or issue refunds.
The Square Register app is a more robust choice for small businesses that makes your iPad running iOS 5.0 or above work like a cash register. It includes a dashboard that lets you set up loyalty programs for customers or use analytics to see which days and times your business is performing best. It also lets you see hour-by-hour sales information, quickly create exportable reports and more.
Free at Squareup.com.
Intuit offers a similar solution that lets you get paid using your mobile device. The small rectangular GoPayment card reader, which also plugs into the headphone jack on your mobile device, is compatible on all iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices running iOS 4.0 and higher and many Android devices running OS 2.1 and higher.
Intuit offers both Pay-as-you-Go or monthly plan pricing. With Pay-as-you-Go, you pay a 2.7% rate per swipe or 3.7% for manually keyed in account numbers. Alternatively, you can pay $12.95 a month to drop those fees to 1.7% and 2.7%, respectively. Amex is 2.89% + $.15 transaction fee for manually keyed accounts under either plan.
Getting set up for an Intuit account requires a bit more time and information up front, such as bank account information and credit report questions. With Square, you only need to provide an email address, password, and mailing address so as to receive the reader and you don’t need to submit your bank information until you’re ready to start transferring funds from Square to your bank account.
But if you’re a QuickBooks user, GoPayment might be a good option. You can sync your GoPayment transactions with the small business accounting software.
Free at Intuit.
In March PayPal announced its new free card reader, which is similar to Square and GoPayment, except triangular in shape.
PayPal Here charges users 2.7%, so it’s a touch cheaper to use than Square. If you sign up for PayPal Here you also get a PayPal Debit card that you can use to take cash out of your local ATM as soon as a sale is made. You can also use it to buy things and earn 1% back instantly, basically taking your transaction fee down to 1.7%.
You can also use the PayPal Here app to accept checks, keep track of cash transactions, and take credit card payments if you don’t have your card reader at the ready. And if you provide some kind of service to customers, you can use the app to send them invoices as soon as your work is complete; they’ll receive it via email and can pay their bill using any credit card or via PayPal’s website (Editor's note: customers must have a PayPal account to pay invoices and, in our experience, PayPal's security processes have made it difficult for Techlicious clients to use their corporate cards with a PayPal account.)
If you’d like to give PayPal Here a shot, you can sign up to be notified as soon as it’s available.