Overview: Android Card Readers
Android smartphones are quickly becoming as popular as the iPhone and offer many of the same apps (Also see: Best iPhone Credit Card Processing Apps). Now your Android phone can help you get paid by offering the same mobile credit card processing options that iPhone users enjoy. The concept of processing credit card transactions with your mobile phone is not a new one, but the technology is continually improving. Additionally, these low-cost apps also make for excellent backup processing options in the event that your main processing option fails.
Below are the best rated Android credit card applications and card readers. Some of these services are ideal for small pop-up locations, while others are best used alongside a traditional merchant account. In order to find the best fit for your business, be sure to check out each provider’s website for a full list of features and fees.
Quick Reference: Top Android Processing Apps
Why These Android Apps:
Operating out of Chicago, Illinois, Payline Data is consistently one of the top-rated providers on CPO. In addition to its wide array of traditional merchant services for businesses of all sizes, the company offers a mobile credit card reader and app for Android to merchants who process over $5,000 per month. Payline Data’s other products and services include merchant cash advance, an online payment gateway with QuickBooks integration, wireless terminals, EMV and NFC acceptance, and a USB swiper for desktop computers.
Payline Data earns the first spot on this list due to the widespread praise that it has received from merchants for its interchange-plus pricing structure with no cancellation fee and its friendly, helpful live customer support team. It is a solid all-around processor that will be a good fit for large brick-and-mortar locations as well as smaller merchants that process at least $5,000 per month via Android devices. Our review of Payline Data gives the company an “A+” rating, and the Better Business Bureau also gives Payline an “A+.”
|Payline Data Highlights|
Host Merchant Services is a Newark, Delaware-based merchant account provider that offers a free mobile processing app called “HMSPay” for Android along with a free mobile reader for eligible businesses. Host is more than just a mobile payment processor, however, as it also provides point-of-sale solutions, online marketing tools, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, gift and loyalty programs, and merchant cash advances. Host Merchant Services specializes in e-commerce businesses but is able to serve mobile merchants just as well.
Host Merchant Services has received only positive feedback on public forums, with most reviewers singling out the company’s customer service for praise. Like Payline, Host offers interchange-plus pricing with no early termination fees to all of its merchants, meaning that users will enjoy the most transparent pricing model available and can cancel service without penalty. The BBB gives Host an “A+” rating, and CPO also gives the company an “A+.”
|Reader cost:||Free for eligible businesses|
Spark Pay was launched in April 2013 as part of Capital One’s “Spark Business” service suite for small business. This free mobile processing app is compatible with both Android and iPhone devices and includes a free headphone jack card reader.
Spark Pay offers two pricing plans designed specifically for low-volume and high-volume merchants. The company’s low-volume plan, the Go Plan, charges no monthly fee and assesses transaction fees of 2.65% plus $0.05 per swiped transaction, 3.7% per swiped American Express transaction, and 3.7% per keyed-in transaction. This plan can be cancelled at anytime with no penalty.
The Pro Plan is intended for high-volume merchants and comes with a $19 monthly fee, a 1.99% plus $0.05 swipe rate, and a 2.8% transaction fee for swiped American Express and all keyed-in cards. Like the Go Plan, it does not include a termination fee. Spark Pay also provides useful features like bar code scanning, tipping, inventory tracking, and digital receipts. All Spark Pay users have access to both email and live phone support during extended business hours.
Spark Pay Video Demonstration
|Spark Pay Highlights|
|Swiped rate:||2.65% (3.7% for American Express)|
|Availability:||Android 4.0 and up|
Inner Fence, a joint venture with the processor Merchant Focus, offers the widest platform compatibility among the other providers in this list. Inner Fence can be used with both iPhone and Android devices as well as Windows and Mac computers. The service is available to both US and Canadian merchants and offers both email and phone support. Unlike most of the other picks in this list, Inner Fence charges a monthly service fee ranging from $20 to $35 based on a merchant’s business type or location, which may be a drawback for low volume and micro-merchants. Additionally, the service requires an Authorize.net account that will likely result in additional monthly fees. Inner Fence also owns a similar service called “Swipe” by AppNinjas.
Inner Fence Video Demonstration
|Inner Fence Highlights|
|Swiped rate:||2.9% + $0.30|
|Keyed-in rate:||2.9% + $0.30|
|Availability:||Android 2.2 and up|
ProPay Jak comes in fourth because of its card reader cost ($39.95) and annual fee ($49.95 or $69.95 depending on account type), which makes it less than ideal for new and low volume merchants. However, the additional features that ProPay offers over the third pick in this article make it a great solution for many businesses. These features include being able to accept and store encrypted payments for later charging when a phone is not getting service, storage of customer information for future billing or refunds, and use of ProPay’s virtual terminal which comes with host of its own features, including various tracking and sales reports. Additionally, ProPay has month-to-month service agreements, no minimum processing requirements, and lower swipe rates than Square and GoPayment (except for GoPayment’s advanced account).
ProPay JAK Overview
|ProPay JAK Highlights|
GoPayment (also known as QuickBooks GoPayment) comes in as the fifth-best choice because it offers most of the same features of its competitors plus a few that are particularly useful to mid-to-high volume merchants. Like most of the other providers in this list, GoPayment offers a free merchant account, free card reader, and and no cancellation fee, which is ideal for just about any business. However, unlike other competitors, GoPayment offers another account type that is specifically tailored for businesses that regularly accept card payments. For $19.95 per month, this second account lowers the swipe fee for certain card types and raises the merchant’s processing limits.
Both of GoPayment’s account types include the ability to process credit cards online through a virtual terminal and add additional users in the event a merchant has multiple sales employees. GoPayment is also considered to be one of the more secure mobile options because the company encrypts the credit card data at the moment that it is entered, whereas some competitors do not. Merchants will need a separate American Express merchant account, but it can be easily obtained by checking one box during GoPayment’s sign up process.
GoPayment Video Introduction
|Swiped rate:||2.4% + $0.25|
|Keyed-in rate:||3.4% + $0.25|
|Availability:||Android 4.0 and up|
PayPal was responsible for launching the first electronic payment method to gain widespread popularity on the Internet, but its mobile processing app is still relatively new to the market. The company has recently restructured its account types to incorporate mobile payment technology and is leveraging its enormous user-base in an attempt to become the top mobile credit card processing player. Once a user has signed up with PayPal and installed the app, PayPal will send a free card reader which can be used immediately. The company offers a variety of customer support options including phone support and email support. PayPal has three different account types that can serve businesses of most processing volumes.
PayPal Video Overview
|PayPal Here Highlights|
|Keyed-in rate:||3.5% + $0.15|
|Availability:||Android 4.0 and up|
Square is another great credit card processing app, but didn’t make our top pick for a few reasons. First, Square seems to be primarily targeting its services to individuals who do not have a frequent need for accepting credit cards. This is apparent because Square relies on placing holds on merchants sales instead notifying them of processing limits or transactions that may trigger holds. Many merchant complaints indicate that Square does a poor job of disclosing why certain transactions were put on hold or when the hold will be released.
Aside from the problem with funding holds, Square does not have a dedicated support phone number and prefers to handle merchant problems through email. This is obviously a concern for merchants that regularly accept credit cards and are accustomed to getting problems resolved quickly over the phone. Additionally, Square does not encrypt the card data during collection or transmittal which raises security concerns with many.
On the positive side, Square’s application is stylish, easy to use, and easy to set up. Like GoPayment, the company offers a free card reader, no monthly fees, and no cancellation fees. Undoubtedly, Square will remain a big player in the mobile credit card processing arena.
You can learn more in this Square review.
Square Swipe Tutorial
|Credit rate:||3.5% + $0.15|
|Availability:||Android 4.0 and up|
A mobile app launched by North American Bancard (NAB), Pay Anywhere has similar feature offerings as Square and GoPayment. A standout benefit of the system is that it is compatible with several Blackberry models in addition to the standard iPhone and Android compatibility. NAB offers several customer support options including email, videos, FAQ pages, and phone support; however, the company’s support has received less-than-stellar reviews in both our Pay Anywhere and NAB review. Another drawback is that Pay Anywhere appears to use the same tactics for preventing losses to fraud and chargebacks, which is to place holds on merchant funds. This appears to often be done without notice and with little transparency. The service seems to be best suited for merchants who swipe the majority of their transactions and have relatively low volume.
PayAnywhere Promotional Video
|Keyed-in rate:||3.49% + &0.19|
|Availability:||Android 4.2 and up|
Additional Unrated Android Credit Card Processing Apps
This is a free credit card application, but there will be costs for your merchant account and payment gateway depending on your merchant account provider. While there are no monthly minimum costs and no cancellation fee, there is a yearly security fee of $49.95.
This credit card processing app is well priced with a monthly fee of $17.90. The quoted “Qualified” transaction rate is 1.59% + $0.19 for swiped transactions and 2.05% + $0.19 for keyed transactions. However, it would be advisable to ask for a quote of the “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates. This app is compatible with an credit card swiper attachment that allows you to swipe your transactions and print out receipts.
This is an inexpensive card processing option that has no contract and no termination fees and a low monthly service fee. The cost per “Qualified” transaction is quoted as 1.69% + $0.21 per swiped transaction with a card reader. The “Qualified” rate goes up to 2.19% + $0.21 without a card reader.
Charge Anywhere Direct
This app is free to download but there is a $9.99 monthly charge. Charge Anywhere Direct does not establish a merchant account in conjunction with the app, but rather enables a merchant to process payments through a mobile device using his or her preexisting merchant account. The app itself is advertised as having no contract length and no termination fees.
This is a great credit card processing option for those businesses that will not process mobile transactions all of the time. There are no startup fees or cancellation fees, just a monthly fee that also gives you access to your merchant account. This fee is only charged in the months that you actually use it, so if you do not process transactions then you are charged nothing.
If we are missing any great apps that should be included in this list, please let us know in the comment section below.
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