10 credit card payment apps for small business
No cash? No problem. As credit card processing services reinvent themselves for the mobile era, there's now an app for that.
Credit card payment apps transform any mobile device into a cash register and credit card terminal in one. Swipe-and-charge simplicity brings mobile sales to the masses. Traveling sales representatives, small-business owners and even yard-sale bargainers can take payments anywhere, from the comfort of their smartphone or tablet.
Small-business credit card processing apps
See what CardRatings.com found out with a quick look at these 10 credit card payment apps, available for Android, iPhone, iPad and other devices.
By: Square, Inc.
Cost: No monthly charge. No transaction fee. Sales percentage: 2.75 percent swiped, 3.5 percent keyed.
Minimalist. Square brings simplicity to mobile credit card transactions. The app is minimalist--"elegant," in the words of MIT's Technology Review--from its logo to its transparent pricing model. A streamlined credit card payment process contains as few steps as possible, and the user interface is free and clear of unnecessary features. Simply plug the little square scanner to your audio port, swipe the card, input payment amount and you have a deal. A finger-signature field and SMS or email receipt makes the transaction official.
Pro: Steering clear of byzantine merchant account terms, Square's simplicity offers a manageable solution for even the smallest vendor.
Con: Higher-volume merchants may be turned off by the high sales percentages and the 30-day waiting period for sales over $1,000. Security measures are less sophisticated than those of some competitors.
Cost: Low volume (<1,000 transactions per month): No monthly charge. No transaction fee. Sales percentage: 2.7 percent swiped, 3.7 percent keyed.
High volume (>1,000 transactions): Monthly, $12.95. No transaction fee. Sales percentage: 1.7 percent swiped and 2.7 percent keyed. Card reader not included.
Easy to use. GoPayment is just as user-friendly as Square, but includes some extra features that will make life easier for established vendors. The app's homepage is structured as an order form with predefined items, quantities and prices, a more robust alternative to Square's write-in fields. GoPayment also syncs with accounting software, including its Intuit cousin QuickBooks. In short, GoPayment is the automated cash register to Square's handwritten invoice.
Pro: GoPayment adds some complexity in the name of convenience, but without sacrificing its user-friendly design.
Con: One size fits all might not fit all perfectly. For customization, check out Chase Paymentech.
Cost: Low-volume (<1,500 transactions per month): No monthly charge. Transaction fee $0.15. Sales percentage: 2.75 percent.
High-volume (>1,500 transactions): Monthly charge, $19.99. Transaction fee, $0.20. Sales percentage: 1.65 percent. Activation and hardware costs, variable depending on contract.
Professional and reliable. You can tell a lot about an app from its relatives: Innovative, design-savvy Square shares the same founder as Twitter; GoPayment is cousin to QuickBooks; and PAYware Mobile carries the VeriFone name. VeriFone, a pioneer of electronic point-of-sale systems, has developed a thorough and reliable app with an emphasis on data security. PayWARE Mobile meets Visa Best Practices for Data Field Encryption and other security benchmarks. The app offers forward-looking features such as geotagging and a link with Google Wallet for contactless payments. A robust and professional app, PAYware is better suited to sales reps and merchants than the average Joe.
Pro: Reliable, stable and forward-looking, PAYware Mobile feels more professional than its competitors. Security is a top priority.
Con: The app design is not as sleek as competitors, nor is the pricing.
By: MerchantWarehouse.com (AKA Accept Credit Cards for iPhone)
Cost: Varies depending on merchant account. Transaction fee, $0.21. Sales percentage: 1.69 percent swiped, 2.19 percent keyed.
Solid value. MerchantWARE Mobile offers competitive pricing and a competent app. The mobile solution is good but not great, lacking some key features available even on the pared-down Square, such as automatic sales tax, a tip field and signature capability. Order fields require manual input without the help of auto-complete, although the Bluetooth card reader captures reliable credit card information. MerchantWARE Mobile is designed for value-conscious small businesses. Merchant Warehouse's president has announced that the business is "not targeting the micro-merchants anymore."
Pro: Low cost and no merchant contract necessary.
Con: User interface is spare rather than minimal, lacking some key features. According to customer reviews, customer service is just as elusive.
By: North American Bancard
Cost: No monthly charge. Transaction fee, $0.19. Sales percentage: 2.69 percent swiped, 3.49 percent keyed.
Comprehensive. Sponsored by credit card processing company North American Bancard, Pay Anywhere reflects the professionalism and sophisticated features of an established service. Reporting and business intelligence are standout features, as is the automatic geo-specific tax calculation. Pay Anywhere includes real-time transaction reports and a free Merchant Portal for account management. The user interface is visually pleasing but cumbersome; a Square designer would eliminate notices to hand the phone back and forth, as well as the OK-clicks after every step.
Pro: Pay Anywhere follows through from transaction to customer relationship management, with more extensive reporting than competitors.
Con: This comprehensive approach makes for a bloated user interface, with too many steps. Slow payout and hidden costs are among the user criticisms.
By: J.P. Morgan Chase
Cost: Monthly, $0-$18.95. Transaction fee, $0.18-$0.24. Sales percentage: 1.59-1.79 percent swiped, 2.1-2.5 percent keyed.
Bespoke. Chase Paymentech is totally customizable, from pricing to features to customer service. This makes the app infinitely scalable: affordable for the small merchant and robust enough for a large enterprise. Mobile solutions are available for all devices, including Windows Mobile and Blackberry.
Pro: Options: You can get exactly what you want.
Con: Options can be daunting; small, seasonal or volatile businesses may prefer the versatility of a "ready-to-wear" app.
Credit Card Terminal
By: Inner Fence
Cost: Monthly, $25. Transaction fee, $0.24. Sales percentage: 1.74-3.79 percent swiped, 2.09-3.79 percent keyed.
People-friendly. Inner Fence was an early arrival on the mobile payment scene, debuting Credit Card Terminal in 2008. The app hits all the basics of credit card payment processing, plus it integrates seamlessly with app partners to form a full invoicing and payment solution. Build on time tracking, product catalog, point of sale and some CRM features. Inner Fence makes customer support a top priority.
Pro: Plays nice with customers and other apps.
Con: No-frills design leaves out time-saving "cash register" features, such as preset items and automatic sales tax calculation.
By: Macally Peripherals (Apple only)
Cost: Monthly, $20. Transaction fee, $0.15. Setup fee, $15. Sales percentage: N/A
Bargain basement. SwipeIt's claim to fame is its credit card reader hardware, a classic magnetic swiper. But the app's real attraction is its pricing. Unlike most credit card payment apps, SwipeIt doesn't take a cut of your business, charging instead a transaction and monthly fee. For vendors with higher-ticket items, SwipeIt is the best deal around. The jury is still out on the overall value of this inexpensive app, however; SwipeIt lacks the automation and sleek design of top competitors.
Pro: Transaction-based pricing liberates high-ticket vendors from having to share the wealth.
Con: A spare user interface omits many useful features.
By: Roam Data, Inc.
Cost: No monthly charge. Transaction fee: $0.20 and up. Sales percentage, 1.59 percent and up.
Winning redesign. ROAM Data's new "flagship" app features a redesigned user interface worthy of its top-ranked credit card swiper. ROAMpay X is visually appealing and sleek, with customized branding options for merchants. The new app still offers the unique capabilities that made the original ROAMpay shine, namely, voice-to-text data entry and address autocomplete using the caller's phone number. In addition, users can take advantage of basic utilities absent in the original, such as an automated tax and tip calculation and a signature field. Security features such as encrypted mobile readers and ROAM's PCI-DSS certified network put ROAMpay X ahead of the competition.
Pro: A wide selection of credit-card processing providers allows you to 'roam' in search of the best deal.
Con: Less flexible than apps designed for micro-merchants, since it requires a merchant account.
Credit Card Machine
By: Paynet Systems
Cost: Monthly, $10. Transaction fee, $0.25. Sales percentage, 1.59 percent for Visa and Mastercard.
Small business value. One of the lower-cost mobile credit card processing solutions, Paynet Systems attracts small businesses in search of a professional, reliable app at an affordable price. Credit Card Machine trades on established processor Paynet's gateway, keeping costs low and service levels high. A lean, no-nonsense interface combines transaction and customer data collection to help businesses manage relationships.
Pro: Affordable and reliable processing for small and mid-sized businesses, with useful CRM features.
Con: Mid-market practical rather than sleek, this app lacks the design ingenuity to appeal to individual micromerchants or large enterprises.
Credit card mobile apps point to the future
Mobile apps are positioning credit cards as the currency mode of the future. Credit card payments already account for more than one in five transactions, according to a 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study, and the number is rising. Take your share of credit card receipts anywhere you go with a mobile credit card processing app.
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