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3 Easy Ways to Take Credit Cards

by Christina DesMarais on June 27, 2012

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

Intuit GoPayment

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.

PayPal Here

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.


Phones and Mobile, Phone Accessories, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos

Discussion loading


From Linda on June 28, 2012 :: 10:58 am

Has Paypal given any timeframe for availability of Here? Info I found says April, give or take.



From Danita on June 28, 2012 :: 12:12 pm

Great info - I had been looking into this and then dropped the ball.  I worked on some comparisons after reading your article and have just cut our total monthly fees in half!



From Judith on June 28, 2012 :: 1:10 pm

Have you looked into Flagship Roam Pay.  I have been trying to evaluate several systems and love Square but have a problem when there is no cell phone service.  Flagship tells me that their swiper will capture the info and put it through as soon as you are getting a



From Jan on July 01, 2012 :: 4:12 am

I take credit cards in my brick/mortar location, with a dedicated terminal that links to my merchant credit card processor.  I have a need to process credit cards from out in the field, and would like to use one of these devices, however, according to my current processor, none of these devices is PCI compliant. This puts the liability for any breach or misuse of credit card information squarely(a pun!)on the person using the device.  The fines for this are not small $5000-$500,000 range.  Are any of the devices you have featured PCI compliant?



From Josh Kirschner on July 02, 2012 :: 10:31 pm

According to information on the sites of the three providers, all are PCI compliant:

They are able to be be PCI compliant because credit card data is not actually stored on the phone, simply transmitted through the network (securely) when the card is swiped. And the networks meet the requirements for PCI compliance. In that regard, these systems are probably as safe as your current in-store processing system.



From Jan on July 03, 2012 :: 11:09 am

Thanks for the quick response Josh!  Those links were exactly the information I was looking for.



From David Ingram on July 03, 2012 :: 1:25 pm

PCI compliance concerns far more than where the data is stored. And so to say that greatly over simplifies the question. There are multiple PCI standards that apply to these solutions, from PA DSS that covers system design, to PCI DSS that covers the environment and process in which the system is implemented. Then there is the recent (May 2012) updated guidance that specifically covers smartphone based mobile POS concerning how the card data is captured and transmitted.
Whilst most of these systems are PCI on the back end most are outside of the scope of PCI when it comes down to the actual mobile POS element.
So, your partially right but it’s not the whole story.
Interesting piece though, and good comments. You just missed out mPowa ( which is the only multinational competitor of the bunch and which has a Chip & PIN solution which none of the others has.


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