Not All Mobile Credit Card Readers Are Created Equal
Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, you’ve probably heard of the popular mobile credit card processing apps and card readers by Square and PayPal Here. While both provide an easy way for just about anyone to begin accepting credit card payments using a smartphone, each has major drawbacks for businesses that need high volume processing, multiple users, and reliable customer support.
If cash flow is a major concern for your business, you may be unwittingly taking a substantial risk by processing your card transactions through services that have policies better supporting the processing needs of babysitters and occasional flea market vendors than for real-world businesses. For example, both Square and PayPal are notorious for placing holds on merchant funds without notice or warning of any kind. In some cases merchants have reported funding holds lasting six months or more. Add to this that Square has no live phone support and PayPal’s support is mediocre at best, and you may be setting yourself up for a big headache down the road.
That being said, Square and PayPal Here suit some processing needs quite well. Based on merchant reports, it appears that the two are great options if you process less than $4,000 in credit card transactions per month, your average ticket is under $500, and you don’t have a need for separate user IDs for employees. However, If your business exceeds the processing amounts mentioned, or you don’t want your staff to have the same access privileges that you do, it’s time to upgrade to a mobile processor that tailors its services to meet the needs of established businesses.
Below are our recommendations for the best mobile processing applications for real businesses based on ease of setup, features suited for real businesses, pricing, and merchant satisfaction. We have also divided the picks into two sections: “Custom Providers” and “‘Out of the Box’ Solutions”. We recommend that you read the descriptions of all the picks in the list because each has its own set of features which may be better tailored to your wishes. Also keep in mind that each provider may require additional information about your business if you wish to increase your processing limits beyond standard approvals.
Why These Providers
Active since early 2014, Fattmerchant is a merchant account provider leading the industry’s move toward flat-rate, subscription-style pricing. The company’s products and services include EMV-compatible countertop terminals, a virtual terminal, an online payment gateway, an online shopping cart, mobile phone processing, QuickBooks integration, online invoicing, and recurring billing. Fattmerchant is capable of serving almost all standard-risk businesses and offers a comprehensive dashboard for tracking all payments and customers.
Fattmerchant offers multiple pricing plans with different rates. Merchants can select either a plan that charges a flat fee on all transactions or a plan that charges a fixed monthly fee plus a fixed per-transaction dollar amount above interchange. In other words, merchants can choose whether or not they are charged a percentage markup on each transaction. Fattmerchant currently has an “A” rating on CPO and an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Host Merchant Services
Host Merchant Services is a Newark, Delaware-based merchant account provider that is well-suited for businesses of all sizes and specialties. The company’s products and services include point-of-sale solutions, online marketing tools, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, mobile credit card processing, gift and loyalty programs, and merchant cash advance. Host Merchant Services specializes in e-commerce businesses and provides a free website and email address to interested merchants. Host is an affordable option for businesses that would like robust in-store payment systems as well as online payment options.
Host Merchant Services has received only positive feedback on public forums, with most reviewers singling out the company’s customer service for praise. 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 and can cancel service without penalty. The BBB gives Host an “A+” rating, and CPO also gives the company an “A+.”
Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, CDG Commerce is another great all-around option for brick-and-mortar retailers. CDG has been privately owned since 1998 and offers credit card terminals, a proprietary payment gateway (as well as a discount on Authorize.Net’s payment gateway), a virtual terminal, QuickBooks integration, mobile phone processing, sales reporting, security breach protection, and vulnerability scanning. CDG Commerce is ideal for retailers that require a simple, low-cost, integrated retail or online processing solution.
CDG Commerce only charges a low, fixed fee per transaction and offers competitive contractual terms, including no annual fees, monthly minimums, or termination fees. CDG also offers next day funding to most business types. CDG has earned an “A+” rating in our review as well as an “A+” rating with the BBB.
Why These Providers
Among the other “out of the box” picks on this list, Inner Fence makes the cut due to its wide range of device compatibility. Merchants can use the system to process credit card payments on Apple and Android devices as well as on PC and Mac computers. This makes it a great option for merchants who have small retail shops or occasionally sell at flea markets, or professional service companies that want to accept payments both in-house and remotely. The main drawback of Inner Fence, as of this review, is that the system does not support separate user IDs for multiple users.
- Review and Refund Transactions from App or Website
- Sales Tax Calculation
- Geo-tagging of transactions
- Digital Signature Capture
Best Suited For
Family businesses and Sole Proprietors who do not need multi-user capabilities but want device flexibility.
SalesVu is great “out of the box” option for business owners that want a mobile credit card processing app as well as a POS System that can assist in organizational needs. This application goes far beyond just processing credit card payments and has different versions tailored for retail, professional services, and bar/restaurant needs. SalesVu has partnered with Mercury Payment Systems to provide the credit card processing portion of the services and merchants must be approved through Mercury if they wish to accept card payments; however, it appears that the app may compatible with other merchant account providers, or as a standalone POS without card processing. Be sure to inquire if you would like to use a different card processor. Merchants considering SalesVu should also be aware that Android device support and features may be more limited than with Apple iOS devices.
- Digital Signature Capture
- SKU Management
- Inventory Control
- Employee Time Keeping
- Cash Management
- Email or Print Receipts (compatible receipt printer optional)
- Email Invoices
- Many, many, more…
Best Suited For
Businesses that desire an inexpensive credit card processing and a POS application, such as:
- Small Retail Stores
- Professional Services
- Restaurants & Bars