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 manage your business 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 Providers:
Flint sets itself apart from its competitors in a number of ways, starting with the unique method it uses for accepting payments. Rather than utilizing a dongle or a card reader that plugs into a headphone jack, Flint allows merchants to quickly scan their customers’ credit cards with the cameras in their smartphones. The images are not stored in the merchants’ phones, and the payment is completed in only a few simple steps following the scan.
Launched in late 2012 by a Redwood City, California-based company called Flint Mobile, Inc, Flint also does not charge processing fees in a traditional sense. Rather than differentiating between swiped and keyed transactions, Flint charges users 1.95% for all debit card transactions and 2.95% for all credit card transactions, with no other monthly fees, termination fees, or recurring costs.
Flint provides custom email receipts, 1-2 day deposits, live phone support, and sales analytics in addition to its card processing capabilities. The company does not provide online invoicing, coupon storage, or check and cash acceptance for Android users at this time, although the Flint website states that these features are in the works. Signing up for Flint requires only a simple download, and there is no need to acquire additional hardware besides a functioning smartphone.
One potential drawback of Flint’s service is its seven-day deposit limit. Flint allows merchants to process up to $1,000 in sales in any given seven-day period, but all funds in excess of $1,000 may be placed in a reserve account for up to 30 days. Additionally, merchants will have to set up American Express acceptance independently of Flint, as the service does not process AmEx at this time. However, a company representative has stated that Flint expects to accept AmEx within the first half of 2015. These two issues have not attracted any merchant complaints online, and it seems that Flint does a reliable job of informing its users whether their needs will be met by its app.
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 2.7% per swiped transaction, 2.95% 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 $9.95 monthly fee, a 1.95% swipe rate, and a 2.95% 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.
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.
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).
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 $12.95 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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