February 8, 2020

Credit Card Reader for iPhone

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A simple app and attached card reader can turn your iPhone into a credit card processor and powerful POS that runs your business. But what's the best reader for your needs? Read on to find out.

© CreditDonkey

You need three things to accept credit card payments on your iPhone:

  • Internet connection (Wi-Fi or 3G)
  • iOS payment app
  • iOS compatible credit card reader

But pay close attention to how the reader connects to your phone. Some connect via the headphone jack, which means you'll need a lightning adapter if you have a newer iPhone. Others connect via Bluetooth, so you don't have to worry about the type of connector.

Read on for our list of top credit card readers for the iPhone.

Best Overall: Square

Square was one of the first iOS card readers and POS apps. It turns your phone into a back-office for free.

The platform offers one of the largest suites of services. Here are the features included in its free app:

  • Dashboard to manage your back-office
  • Reporting
  • Customer database
  • Fast deposits
  • PCI compliance
  • Ecommerce store
  • Invoicing
  • Automated tipping
  • Split bills
  • Email or text receipts

Pricing
Card Reader:

  • Free magstripe reader (additional readers $10 each)
  • Chip/Contactless Payment reader: $49 or $17 for 3 months

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap payments: 2.6% plus $0.10 per transaction
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% plus $0.15 per transaction
  • Invoiced payments: 2.9% plus $0.30 per invoice

Additional Services:

  • Employee management: $29/month plus $5/employee
  • Loyalty programs: $45/month
  • Email marketing: $15/month

Pros

  • Accept all major credit cards, contactless payments, cash, and gift cards
  • Integrates well with third-party ecommerce and bookkeeping platforms
  • Powerful POS that manages all aspects of your business
  • Accept offline payments
  • Fast approval with no contracts

Cons

  • Approval is contingent and could lead to canceled accounts
  • Mediocre customer service
  • You may experience frozen funds

What is the difference between swipe/chip/contactless payments and keyed-in payments?

Swipe, chip, and contactless payments all require the card to be present for information to be transmitted. With keyed-in payments, sometimes called "card-not-present" payments, the credit card information is manually entered by either the customer or vendor. Since the card itself is not technically required for these transactions, keyed-in payments are the least secure.

Cheapest Card Reader for iOS: EMSPlus

EMSPlus offers a very basic card reader and app for credit card processing. You'll only pay for the processing fees for transactions. That means merchants with infrequent credit card transactions can get away with the free swipe card reader and free app.

With EMSPlus, you can:

  • Itemize and categorize orders
  • Customize tips
  • Email receipts
  • Send and manage invoices

Pricing
Card reader:

  • Free magstripe reader (with headphone jack only)
  • Lightening enabled reader: $79.95
  • All-in-One Reader (Swipe, Chip, and Tap): $149

You'll receive a $100 rebate if you purchase an all-in-one reader and process $3,000 in sales in your first 90 days.

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap: 2.25% + $.10 per transaction
  • Manual: 3.5% plus $0.15 per transaction

Pros

  • Start collecting credit card payments free of charge
  • Compatible with both iPhones and iPads
  • Store inventory and customer data to run your back-office for free
  • EMSPlus offers an Apple Watch app, which most processors don't offer
  • 24/7 365 customer support

Cons

  • No offline payment mode
  • Inventory doesn't always sync between devices
  • The chip reader is expensive

Best Merchant Account for iOS: Fattmerchant

Individual merchant accounts have tougher underwriting requirements. Fattmerchant makes up for the tougher requirements with low processing fees. The platform also offers a powerful POS app.

There's a monthly membership fee of $99 that pays for your online dashboard as well as your mobile processing. That's why this reader/app is better for established businesses looking to get away from the risky aggregate payment processors.

Fattmerchant lets you:

  • Run sales and refunds
  • Manage inventory
  • Customize discounts
  • Manage invoices
  • Email receipts
  • Limited reporting options (more in the online dashboard)

Pricing

  • Card reader: Fattmerchant doesn't disclose the cost of the readers online
  • Payment Processing: Interchange plus $0.15 per transaction
  • Membership Fee: $99/month
  • Swiped Payments:
    For Businesses Processing Up to $500,000 Annually
    Starting at $99/month + $.08 per transaction & direct cost
  • For Businesses Processing Over $500,000 Annually
    Starting at $199/month + $.06 per transaction & direct cost
  • Keyed Payments
    For Businesses Processing Up to $500,000 Annually
    Starting at $99/month + $.15 per transaction & direct cost
  • For Businesses Processing Over $500,000 Annually
    Starting at $199/month + $.12 per transaction & direct cost

Pros

  • Accept swipe, chip, and contactless payments
  • Track cash payments in addition to credit card sales
  • You can add a barcode scanner to the reader
  • 24/7 technical support
  • No cancellation fees

Cons

  • Harder to qualify for your own merchant account
  • You pay the $99 monthly fee even if you don't have any sales
  • The pricing structure only benefits high volume sellers

Best for Ecommerce Sellers: Shopify

If you sell online and in-person, synchronizing your systems will cut down on work and mistakes. Shopify has a powerful e-commerce system and mobile credit card reader. Put the two together, and you have a powerhouse business online and in-person.

Connect the chosen Shopify reader to your smartphone or tablet and you can accept credit card payments with Shopify Pay. If you use Shopify Pay, you avoid the extra payment processing fee Shopify charges for third-party payment processors.

With Shopify, you can:

  • Take and manage orders
  • Manage employees
  • Track and manage inventory
  • Purchase and print shipping labels for discounted shipping
  • Have access to real-time analytics
  • Track and manage customer data

Pricing
Card Reader: Shopify Tap & Chip Reader is $49
Payment Processing: Choose a monthly subscription plan in order to use Shopify mobile. Here are the options:

  • Basic Shopify: $29/month and 2.7% per transaction
  • Shopify: $79/month and 2.5% per transaction
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/month and 2.4% per transaction

Pros

  • Have the same information online and on your mobile device in real-time
  • Works on iPhones and iPads
  • Try it free for 2 weeks
  • You can sell the same or different products online and in-person
  • Contracts are month to month unless you pay for an annual plan to get the 10% discount

Cons

  • Only benefits online sellers who want to sell in person
  • Hard to compare payment processing costs with the flat-rate plus membership pricing
  • You need an internet connection to process payments

Best for Small Mobile Business: Payanywhere

Small businesses that don't process credit cards frequently need a pay-as-you-go plan. Payanywhere offers this option and even includes a free reader.

It's a great way for small businesses with less than $10,000 in monthly sales to dip their toes in credit card processing without paying excessive fees.

Payanywhere offers the following features:

  • Employee data management
  • Inventory management
  • Real-time analytics
  • One-time or recurring invoicing
  • Customize your branding on the mobile POS
  • Open tickets and tabs
  • Set up tipping in the app or allow tips on the printed receipt

Pricing
Card reader:

  • 2-in-1 reader (swipe and chip): Free (additional readers $29.95 each)
  • 3-in-1 reader (swipe, chip, and tap): $49.95

Payment processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap: 2.69% per transaction
  • Keyed-in and invoice payments: 3.49% plus $0.19

Pros

  • You only pay for what you process
  • Accept payments even when offline
  • Next day funding
  • Choose from traditional credit card terminal theme or retail theme with item libraries and inventory tracking
  • Simple setup with no additional fees

Cons

  • Pay a $3.99 inactivity fee after 12 months of no credit card transactions
  • Payanywhere's traditional terminals charge a monthly software fee for each terminal
  • There's a risk of frozen funds or canceled accounts

Others Options to Consider

© CreditDonkey

Read on for some more credit card readers that may fit your business needs.

PayPal Here

If you already use their online payment processor, PayPal Here makes sense. You can let your customers pay in person on the go with recognizable branding and systems.

PayPal Here offers a free reader (in some cases), instant deposits in your PayPal account, and the ability to accept PayPal funds.

Pricing
Card reader:

  • Swipe: $19.99
  • Chip and Swipe: $24.99
  • Chip and Tap: $59.99
  • Chip Card Reader with Pin Pad: $99.99

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe: 2.7% per transaction
  • Keyed-in: 3.5% plus $0.15 per transaction
  • Invoice: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction

Pros

  • No set up or monthly fees
  • Flat-rate processing fees
  • Established business and one of the most recognized payment processors
  • One of the only platforms that accepts PayPal funds
  • Month-to-month contract

Cons

  • PayPal often adds limits to accounts so it's not ideal for large businesses
  • It's hard to get customer support
  • Limited POS features

QuickBooks GoPayment

Current QuickBooks users have access to free mobile credit card readers and a pay-as-you-go contract. You can seamlessly integrate with your QuickBooks account, reducing your workload and the risk of human error.

QuickBooks GoPayment accepts in-person swipe/chip payments, keyed-in payments, and invoiced payments.

Pricing
Card reader:

  • Swipe and chip reader: $19 (free with QuickBooks Payments)
  • Swipe, chip, and tap reader: $49

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap payments: 2.4% plus $0.25 per transaction
  • Keyed-in payments: 3.4% plus $0.25 per transaction
  • Invoiced payments: 2.9% plus $0.25 per transaction

Pros

  • GoPayment pulls all information from QuickBooks Payments for easy mobile POS setup
  • Instantly accept keyed-in payments after downloading the app
  • Next day deposits
  • No additional monthly fees for the mobile POS
  • No cancellation fees

Cons

  • You need a QuickBooks online account, which has a monthly fee
  • The POS has limited features
  • No offline payment processing feature

SumUp

If you need a simple payment processor without all of the bells and whistles, SumUp is a good option. With instant approval, flat-rate pricing, and a few simple features, you can be up and running quickly.

SumUp's limited features include:

  • An item library
  • Tipping
  • Email or text receipts
  • Tax rates setup
  • Track cash payments
  • Process refunds

Pricing

  • Card Reader: Swipe, chip, and tap reader: $19 with free shipping
  • Payment Processing: Swipe, chip, or tap payments: 2.65% per transaction

Pros

  • Receive payouts within one to two business days
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing with no contract
  • 30-day money-back guarantee on the reader
  • Easy setup
  • Connects via Bluetooth

Cons

  • Only offers swipe, chip, or tap payments (no keyed-in transactions)
  • Limited POS features
  • Limited reporting options

How to Choose a Credit Card Reader

© CreditDonkey

You'll find hundreds of options for credit card readers for iOS online. So how do you choose? Read on for some factors to consider.

Features

What do you need not just from the credit card reader, but the POS?

First, consider the type of credit cards you want to accept, like swipe, chip, and/or tap. Many companies provide free swipe readers but charge for other options. Chip and tap readers offer greater levels of security, which is something to keep in mind.

Next, think of the POS. Do you want features such as:

  • Inventory
  • Employee management
  • Customer database management
  • Sales tracking
  • Tipping
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping

Some readers, such as SumUp, only offer the basics. Others, like Square, offer numerous features and the ability to integrate third-party apps.

Pricing and Fees

Here's what you might pay when processing credit card payments:

  • Monthly Fees
    Some payment processing companies charge a membership or subscription fee. You pay this regardless of whether you process any payments that month.

  • Processing Fees
    Processing companies charge a flat-rate fee (e.g., 2.75% per transaction) or interchange-plus pricing to transmit the transaction data and obtain the approval. Paying for the credit card reader is just so you can read credit card transactions.

    What is interchange-plus pricing?

    Card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard, charge non-negotiable interchange fees to cover their cost to process the transaction. The credit card processing company pays the network for you but charges you for the service.

    Processors also charge a wholesale markup in order to make their money. You may see it as interchange-plus $0.25 or interchange plus 0.10%, as a few examples.

  • Miscellaneous Fees
    Typically, iOS credit card processing companies lump all fees into the flat rate or interchange-plus pricing but don't assume. Ask about fees for PCI compliance, virtual terminal, chargebacks, refunds, and invoicing.

  • Monthly Minimum Requirements
    Understand if the processor has any minimums that must be met each month. You may incur a fee or penalty if you don't reach them.

  • Cost of the Reader
    Many credit card readers for iOS are free. The free credit card readers typically have limited functions. If you want to step up your game and offer chip or contactless payments, you'll typically pay a one-time fee for the reader.

Funding

You don't receive funds immediately upon customer payment. Each company has a funding timetable. Ask questions about the funding timeline so that you know what to expect.

Some, like PayPal Here, deliver funds instantly to your PayPal account. Others batch payments once a day and fund your account within a few days. Yet some, especially for high-risk businesses, hold onto your funds for 30 days or longer.

Offline Payment Options

If you collect payments in crowded areas, such as concerts or fests, you may want an offline payment option. Data connections aren't always guaranteed, especially in crowded areas. That could limit your payment processing options if you choose a company that doesn't offer offline payments.

Bottom Line

You should take your time when choosing your iOS credit card reader. Don't pay attention to the reader alone—know the features of the POS, the full cost of processing the payment, and the monthly cost of the program. Compare the features to your needs and budget before choosing your reader.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

More from CreditDonkey:


Square Rates


Mobile Credit Card Processing


Credit Card Payment Gateway


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Helcim

Consumers today want payment options. Accepting credit cards is a requirement to succeed in business if you don't want to lose your clients to competitors. With hidden costs, though, it can seem impossible to choose the right processor. Helcim ...

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